For Recy Taylor, An Apology Is Not Enough
For those of you who don’t know, a 24-year-old black married woman, Recy Taylor, now 91, was gang-raped in 1944 by several white men while she was returning from a church revival. They used as an excuse that the local police was looking for her and accusing her of a crime, then forced her into a car. When it was over, and she hobbled home in the dark bleeding and torn, the Abbeville, AL authorities excused and hushed up details of the crime because the men were white, were known and had families in the community. The white men even said that Taylor was a well-known prostitute, and did not even show up for the initial proceedings, whereupon a judge dismissed the charges. Taylor and her family were shunned and intimidated many times, and eventually forced to leave town. The Taylors relocated to Florida, though her younger brother, Robert Corbitt and his family remained in Abbeville.
Due to Corbitt’s persistence, and the reception of a recent book about the sexual violence visited upon black women before and during the Civil Rights Era, the case of Recy Taylor has become a cause once more. Yesterday, in a press conference, the mayor of Abbeville, a judge, and State Senator Dexter Grimsley apologized to Recy Taylor and her family.
But so far, the apologies, while heartfelt, have stopped short of getting the official sanction Taylor and her family have been waiting for. At a press conference on Monday, Rep. Grimsley said “I open my heart up and say that I am deeply sorry for what happened. ”Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock weighed in with, “Anytime one of our residents whether past or present feels pain or feels victimized we certainly want to offer that apology.”
Following the press conference, Taylor’s brother Robert Corbitt told me by phone, “While I’m pleased with the mayor’s apology, it’s nothing official. We were looking for an official one from the city, the state and the county.”
If Grimsley is serious about issuing an apology during the current legislative session, he has about another six weeks to do so. Taylor has been waiting decades for this small measure of justice (and with the recent attention the matter has received, the public is waiting, too). It’s the least Alabama could do to stop the delays, make the apology official, and right this wrong once and for all.
I would tend to agree. Several websites, including HuffPo, also had comments saying, in effect, pay her. I think that is what these Alabama lawmakers don’t want to do, give any of the family an inch that would involve a successful lawsuit with an outcome of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Frankly, I don’t think that it is about money per se. It is about an official apology from the state of Alabama for a domestic terrorist act against a black woman, and for acts like these against black women in general. And I don’t care if it was two months ago or 100 years ago.
And then there is the Bagger and Republican neo-Confederate bunch in the state that would resist apologizing, period. Never mind what this woman suffered every day, with her husband and children for something that they would bring out guns for with their own daughters, wives and mothers. Again, I have to say it, why do people have to be convinced that black women can be raped? A lot of focus has been given to black men getting lynched over anything. But lynching and rape were the twin cornerstones of the domestic terrorism visited on black people after slavery.
Justice for Recy Taylor.
- Interview: Brother of Jim Crow-Era Gang Rape Victim Fights for Justice (news.change.org)
- Alabama Leaders Apologize For Handling Of Brutal 1944 Rape Case (huffingtonpost.com)
- Recy Taylor May Finally See Alabama Acknowledge Her 1944 Rape (alternet.org)