At the Dark End of the Street: Sexual Violence and the Civil Rights Movement
In 1944, in Abbeville, Alabama, a black woman named Recy Taylor walked home from a church revival. A car full of white men kidnapped her off the street, drove her to the woods and gang raped her at gunpoint. When they finished, they dropped her off in the middle of town and told her they would kill her if she told anyone what happened. But that night, she told her husband, father and the local sheriff about the assault. A few days later the Montgomery NAACP called to say they were sending their best investigator.
It was Rosa Parks.
Rosa Parks carried Taylor’s story back to Montgomery where she and the city’s most militant activists organized the Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor, and launched what the Chicago Defender called the strongest campaign for equal justice in a decade. Eleven years later this group of homegrown activists would become better known as the Montgomery Improvement Association, vaunting it’s president, Martin Luther King Jr. to international prominence and launching a movement that would help change the world. But when the coalition first took root, King was still in High School.
The 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, often heralded as the opening scene of the civil rights movement, was in many ways, one of the last acts of a decades-long struggle to protect black women, like Taylor, from sexualized violence and rape. Indeed, major civil rights campaigns in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina had roots in organized resistance to sexual violence.
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
Danielle L. McGuire
This needs to be a television series. Rosa Parks, investigator.