Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother, was on her way home from church in 1944 Alabama when she was abducted by six white boys who took her to the woods and raped her repeatedly. As a result, she was never able to have another child. “The Rape of Recy Taylor” documentary tells her story.
While the rape of black girls and women by white boys and men was common in the Jim Crow South, it was uncommon for black women to report these rapes because little was ever done about it. White law enforcement routinely participated in cover-ups to protect the accused.
Recy Taylor told the boys that if they didn’t kill her, she wouldn’t tell anyone what happened, but she was brave. Instead of keeping her promise to her attackers, she immediately told the police. At first, the local law enforcement did exactly what was expected and tried to cover it up. Then, the NAACP sent its rape investigator to Alabama. That investigator was none other than Rosa Parks, the woman who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white rider.
The result was a trial, but with an all-male, all-white jury, there was no justice for Recy. She was painted as a prostitute, rather than the married, church-going mother she actually was. Recy had even been a mother to her own brothers and sisters because the family lost her mother when the children were young.
After the trial, Recy’s house was fireballed by white supremacists, and she and her family had to move in with relatives to escape the additional attacks.
Recy herself appears briefly in the film, and her brother and sister are extensively interviewed. She passed away just at the end of last year in Dec. 2017 just a few days before her 98th birthday, but not before she experienced considerably more tragedies following her rape as a young woman.
Unfortunately, the only thing resembling justice that Recy ever received was a very belated apology from the state of Alabama in 2011.
The documentary goes beyond Recy’s experience alone. Scenes from race films are used, depicting rapes and lynchings, although nothing graphic is shown. These films that were made for black audiences were a dramatization of what people experienced in their lives, but white audiences did not see these films.
While “The Rape of Recy Taylor” doc is a bit slow-moving, it’s an important story that more people should know about. The film will be available on digital HD on Mar. 27, 2018.