Recy Taylor is a name Oprah Winfrey thinks you should know.
Taylor, a young black woman and sharecropper, was walking home from church in Abbeville, Alabama, when a group of six white men abducted her in 1944.
She was “raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road, coming home from church,” Winfrey told the audience. “They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone.”
But Taylor’s ordeal was reported to the NAACP and a young investigator named Rosa Parks worked on the case. Parks helped organize a nationwide campaign and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice for Taylor.
“Together, they sought justice,” Winfrey said. “But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow.” Taylor’s abductors were never prosecuted.
Taylor died at the age of 97, on December 28.
Winfrey drew parallels from Taylor’s life to what’s happening today.
“She lived, as we all have lived, too many in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” Winfrey said. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak the truth to the power of those men.”
“But their time is up,” Winfrey said to a standing ovation.
Taylor’s story is told in a book, called “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance – a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” and a documentary, “The Rape of Recy Taylor.”
“I hope Recy Taylor died, knowing that her truth, like so many other women who were tormented in those years, even now tormented, goes marching on,” Winfrey said.