The Grio — In 2008, the Department of Justice received over $1 million to pursue racially-motivated crimes committed during the Civil Rights era. However, the bill, known as the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, only allowed the Justice Department to investigate “crimes that resulted in a death.” By limiting the scope of the bill, the Justice Department and other organizations focus almost exclusively on racial crimes committed against African-American men–a focus, the New York Times recently noted, that had not yielded significant prosecutions. Unfortunately, the crimes committed against black women during Jim Crow often remain unsolved and worse, unknown. Perhaps Congress should revise the bill and allow the Justice Department to investigate the flipside of lynching and racialized murder: the rape of black women.
On September 3, 1944, a carload of white men abducted Recy Taylor, a slender, copper-colored twenty-four-year-old mother and sharecropper as she walked home from church in Abbeville, Alabama. The six men drove her to a lonely wooded area outside of town and gang-raped her at gunpoint. When they finished, someone blindfolded her and shoved her back into the car. Back on the highway, the men stopped and ordered Taylor out of the car. “Don’t move until we get away from here,” one of them yelled. Taylor heard the car disappear into the night. She pulled off the blindfold, got her bearings, and began the long walk home.
That night she told her husband, her father, and the local sheriff what happened. A few days later, a telephone rang at the NAACP branch office in Montgomery, Alabama. E.D. Nixon, the local president, promised to send his best investigator to Abbeville. Her name was Rosa Parks.
arks met with Taylor shortly after the attack, and with black activists in Montgomery, Birmingham, and New York, organized the “Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor.” Together, they launched what the Chicago Defender called the “strongest campaign to be seen in a decade.”
Despite garnering national and international attention for nearly a year, Taylor’s assailants were never punished for what they did. Two all-white, all-male juries refused to indict the men despite the fact that they admitted to kidnapping and having sex with Taylor. Their admissions are part of a trove of evidence sitting in a box in theAlabama Department of Archives and History, yet there has been no movement to reopen Taylor’s case or any old racially-motivated rape cases.
The kidnapping and rape of Recy Taylor was not unusual in the segregated South. (Continue Reading @ The Grio…)