Civil rights hero and rape survivor Recy Taylor passed away on Thursday in her sleep. Taylor was 97 years old and would have turned 98 on Sunday. Her final days were spent in an Abbeville nursing home. Her brother, Robert Corbitt informed NBC News of her passing, who then shared her iconic story.
The Alabama woman’s life changed in 1944 when she was 24 years old. A married mother of two at the time, Taylor was on her way home from a church service one September evening in Abbeville. Six armed white men pulled up to Taylor and proceeded to kidnap her, rape her and leave her on the side of the road.
They threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the attack. She told authorities anyway.
Danielle L. McGuire, historian and author of a book, recalled on Twitter that the Montgomery NAACP learned of the story and “promised to send their best investigator.”
The investigator they sent was Rosa Parks, just over a decade before she would popularly refuse to give up her bus seat.
McGuire also made a note of the danger Taylor faced.
Taylor’s husband, Willie Guy Taylor, was reportedly offered $600 for his wife to “forget” the rape, reported the Washington Post.
It was reported that the suspects’ lawyer told her husband, “N***er — ain’t $600 enough for raping your wife.”
Taylor was unshaken by threats and bribes and she proceeded with the case.
Predictably, Taylor did not immediately receive justice in the Jim Crow South, even after at least one of her six attackers admitted to the crime. As the Associated Press, reported, two all-white, all-male grand juries refused to bring an indictment against the men.
Taylor told the publication in 2010 that she wanted to see an apology from officials.
“It would mean a whole lot to me,” she said. “The people who done this to me … they can’t do no apologizing. Most of them is gone.”
The Alabama state legislature apologized in 2011.
Taylor’s story was recorded in one of McGuire’s books, “At the Dark End of the Street.” It received a new wave of popularity after “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” a documentary by Nancy Buirski that was released earlier in the year.
She was remembered for her courage to speak.