While accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey highlighted the life and story of Recy Taylor in a speech about racism and sexism.
Now, in continued effort to keep her name alive, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are organizing to honor her legacy at the State of the Union Address this month.
Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old African-American sharecropper and new mother, was walking home from a church service in the small town of Abbeville, Ala, on Sept. 3, 1944, when a car full of armed white men approached her. She tried to run, but was abducted and driven into a wooded grove, where the six men brutally raped her and threatened to kill her if she cried out or reported the rape, according to state records.
Despite her attacker’s warnings, Taylor reported the incident to the authorities. Her story gained national attention and the NAACP sent a young investigator by the name of Rosa Parks to handle Taylor’s case. However, two grand juries chose not to indict the attackers.
Taylor died last month, just days before her 98th birthday.
“She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” Winfrey said. “I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on.”
Her rape is the subject of a new documentary that coincides with a growing number of sexual assault and harassment accusations and as one of the planned protests set to take place during the upcoming national address, CBC members will wear red pins in remembrance of Taylor.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) is spearheading the effort.
“In this effort, we must also acknowledge the inequities in acknowledging our suffering and the failure of judicial system in administering justice,” Coleman tweeted of the movement. “We cannot forget the many marginalized women who have spoken up, spoken out and have long been ignored.”
Coleman will also encourage CBC members to wear all black, in line with other planned demonstrations to show solidarity with women who have been sexually assaulted.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), a CBC member and survivor of sexual assault, plans to wear black and a red pin at the State of the Union.
“I’ll be wearing black during this year’s State of the Union address as a symbol of support for the allies working to end sexual assault, harassment, and workplace inequality,” Moore said. “I’ll also be joining [Coleman] in wearing a red Recy Taylor pin as tribute to her legacy and quest for justice.”