On September 3, 1944 a car full of white boys pulled up and demanded that Recy Taylor come with them. She was involved in some crime and they intended to straighten it out, they told her. She was a 24 years old, a mother, and a wife, walking home from church with a friend.
They took her to a secluded place, raped her, then threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
When the case became widely known in Alabama, Marvin White approached the Taylors with an offer: A $100 settlement for each of the white men who raped Recy. White was the attorney representing the rapists, and he was insulted when the Taylors turned down his offer.
“Nigger — ain’t $600 enough for your wife,” he asked Willie Taylor, Recy’s husband.
Ms. Taylor’s case was not rare, in fact, there were similar sexual assaults occurring across the South. But this case reached one very special NAACP staffer, Rosa Parks, and she was dispatched to investigate the case.
In 2011, Ms. Taylor told NPR how her ordeal began:
I was – went to my friends house. Then she decided she wanted to go to church that night. I told her, yes, I would go. We went on to church and came back. A car running around outside of us, six young men jumped out with a gun and said that – you’re the one that cut a white boy in Clarkton. And the police got us out looking for you. You get in the car and we will take you uptown to the police station.
And they got me in the car and carried me straight through the woods, but before they go where they was going, they blindfolded me. After they messed over and did what they were going to do me, say, we’re going to take you back. We’re going to put you out. But if you tell it, we’re going to kill you.
So, first person I met was my daddy. And he said, where in the world you been? And I said, some white boys took me out and messed with me. And then the next person I met was Mr. Louis(ph), was the high sheriff. And he asked me, he said, well, Recy, what in the world happened to you tonight? And I told him. So Mr. Louis said, let’s just go back to the store and said, when we get down to the store, I’m going to go and see if I can find them.
On a recent Rock The Schools podcast with Citizen Stewart, Danielle McGuire (author of “At The Dark End Of The Street”) and Beth Hubbard (producer of “The Rape of Recy Taylor”) provide a powerful history lesson on how Ms. Taylor’s case became a critical piece of Black history, and contributed to the Montgomery bus boycott.
You can hear this podcast below: