Skip to content. Fourteen-year-old Emmett was murdered in , but his name and his story still conjure emotions today. This modern Emmett Till was convicted as a teenager and is presently serving a year sentence in Louisiana for the attempted rape of two white teenage girls in the s. We wish to disrupt a disturbing narrative surrounding the intersection of race and rape—specifically, how African American defendants accused of raping white women and African American women raped by white men are treated differently under the law. The chattel slavery system. The practice of exploiting and violating the bodies of African American women with impunity is an ancient one. They used rape to assert their power and authority over their property without accountability. The legal system enforced this by the sin of omission.
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Just as black men were lynched, black women faced systemic sexual violence under Jim Crow. For Southern black women, the era of separate but equal was also a decades-long reign of white sexual terror. If Southern trees bore strange fruit, the homes and streets they shaded contained secrets that until recently have largely been swept over and ignored. The Rape of Recy Taylor , a documentary that opens in New York theaters Friday, concentrates some much-needed sunlight on this period of American history and the women who lived through it. Directed by Nancy Buirski, the woman behind both the narrative film Loving and the documentary The Loving Story , The Rape of Recy Taylor brings attention to a little-discussed but common reality for black women in the Jim Crow South: racially motivated rape by white men.
The film chronicles Taylor, who was 24 at the time, walking home from a church service on a September summer evening in , when she was kidnapped, gang raped, and left blindfolded on the side of a road by six white men. According to reports, the men were armed and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the attack. The young, married mother did tell authorities, however, in the height of the Jim Crow Era. Nancy Buirski, director of the film, said Taylor passed away peacefully knowing that her story has been told. One of the suspects admitted to raping Taylor. In , nearly 67 years after the rape, Alabama legislature issued an apology to Taylor "for its failure to prosecute her attackers. Buirski said Taylor felt no shame but rather entitled to justice for what happened to her that day. She wants her to be remembered for her courage and dignity.
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