There were pine needles in her hair and she was certain she would die. Recy Taylor was raped by six men in a grove of pine trees on September, 3, 1944.
She was kidnapped, threatened with a gun, battered and raped repeatedly and, despite the men later confessing, they were never convicted for their crimes.
Why? Because the men were white and Taylor was black.
“The men threatened to kill Taylor if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported and a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice,” Winfrey told the audience.
“But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men.”
Winfrey told the story to demonstrate the long history of women’s persecution. To show many women have suffered without justice to bring us into the current moment, in which victims of sexual assault are speaking out under the banner of #MeToo. Her words added depth and power to the movement and her message was clear: Time is up.
As we move forward we must remember those who came before. For they are the ones who made today’s hopefulness possible.
This is Recy Taylor’s story.
It was a Sunday afternoon and 24-year-old Taylor was walking home from church with a friend and her friend’s teenage son. Her husband and infant child were waiting for her at home. They lived in Abbeville in Henry County, Alabama.
A car of seven men, led by US Army Private Herbert Lovett, pulled up alongside the trio and falsely accused Taylor of harassing a white boy that evening. They kidnapped Taylor at gunpoint and took her to the grove where they forced her to kneel and remove her clothes.
She was certain she would die.
Her pleas only incited more anger. When she tried begging the men to take her home to her child, Lovett told her: “Get them rags off, or I’ll kill you and leave you down here in the woods”.
His next order was: “Lie down and act just like you do with your husband or I’ll cut your throat”.
They took turns with her. Throwing her body around and passing her from one to another. Once they were finished, the men blindfolded her and left her on the side of the road. She was told that if she ever reported what happened, they’d kill her.
The winner of the Golden Globes was… Women. Post continues below.
Taylor was brave. She was battered and scared but also determined. And, with the threat of death whispering constantly in her ear, she reported her rape to the police.