Recy Taylor, who spearheaded an anti-rape activism movement in the Jim Crow South after she was abducted and brutally raped by six White men in 1944, passed away in Abbeville, Alabama on Thursday. She was 97.
Taylor had been in good spirits on Wednesday before her sudden death in her sleep at a nursing home just three days before her 98th birthday, her brother Robert Corbitt said to The Associated Press. The brave woman was only 24 years old when she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted while she walked home from an Alabama church. Her case drew the attention of Rosa Parks, who the NAACP assigned to investigate the unprovoked attack. However, justice never came for Taylor.
The six men who admitted to having violated Taylor got off after two all-white, all-male grand juries failed to indict them. Years later after the men’s deaths, Taylor expressed that she still wanted officials to make amends. “It would mean a whole lot to me,” Taylor said to The AP in a 2010 interview. “The people who done this to me, … they can’t do no apologizing. Most of them is gone.”
Taylor received an apology from The Alabama Legislature, who passed a resolution in 2011.
An emotional 2010 book, At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire, chronicled Taylor’s poignant story, along with the narratives of several other black women attacked by white men during the civil rights decades. The Rape of Recy Taylor, a documentary about Taylor, was released weeks ago.
“It is Recy Taylor and rare other black women like her who spoke up first when danger was greatest,” Nancy Buirski, who directed the relevant documentary, told NBC News in an email. “It is these strong women’s voices of the 40’s and early 50’s and their efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other movements that followed, notably the one we are witnessing today.”
Several public figures took to Twitter and shared their condolences.