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Recy Taylor: Here’s the Story of the Woman Oprah Praised at the Golden Globes

Recy Taylor battled for justice in the Jim Crow South after she was raped by six white men, who were never charged for the crime

Oprah Winfrey used her time on stage at the Golden Globes to deliver a powerful speech about the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements that dominated the awards show discussion. And she also told the story of Recy Taylor, a Civil Rights hero many had never heard of before.

Winfrey, who was honored with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment,” recognized women in Hollywood and beyond who are speaking up. Winfrey then turned to Taylor, who stood up to racism in the era of Jim Crow to seek justice after she was raped by six white men in 1944.

No charges were ever brought against the six men who raped her — two all-white, all-male grand juries declined to indict them. This was after one of the men confessed to the crime, as the New York Times reports.

The case was covered in the 2010 book “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,” bringing it renewed attention. That resulted in the Alabama Legislature issuing an official apology to Taylor, calling the state’s failure to prosecute “morally abhorrent and repugnant.”

Her story was also told in the documentary “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” which was released last month. Taylor died in Abbeville in December at the age of 97.

Winfrey’s speech was the culmination of a Golden Globes in which celebrities dressed in black in solidarity with the #TimesUp movement, a response to the many women who have recently come forward to report sexual misconduct by men in Hollywood and beyond.

Here are Winfrey’s comments about Taylor:

There’s someone else, Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and mother walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road coming home from church.

They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the NAACP where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case. And together, they sought justice.

But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died ten days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.

And I just hope — I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on.

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