In 1944, Recy Taylor, an African-American woman from Abbeville, Alabama, was abducted by six white men as she was walking home from church. The men gang-raped Taylor, blindfolded her and dumped her on the side of the road. Her captors threatened to kill her if she told anyone what had happened. Taylor, who was 24 at the time, went to the police anyway.
At the height of the Jim Crow era, during which segregation was legally enforced in the American South, Taylor’s story was a unique one. Her case, which was brought before the NAACP in Alabama was spearheaded by fellow civil rights icon Rosa Parks. While the rapists allegedly offered Taylor more than $600 to “forget” that the rape ever happened, Parks and Taylor refused the bribe.
“It is Recy Taylor and rare other black women like her who spoke up first when danger was greatest,” film director Nancy Buirski told NBC News. Buirski, who directed the film The Rape of Recy Taylor, which premiered at the New York Film Festival this year, was close to Taylor and believes her actions were one of the many catalysts that helped set off a demand for change that continues to this day.
“[She was] a brave woman and a fighter who tried her best to get it known all over the world,” Taylor’s brother Robert Corbitt told NBC News. Unfortunately, Taylor’s rapists were never charged or prosecuted for their crimes. In 2011, the Alabama legislature decided to issue an official apology to Taylor. Taylor died Thursday morning at 97. She would’ve been 98 on Sunday.
Watch the official trailer for The Rape of Recy Taylor below:
Read the full story at NBC News.