Last night was full of iconic moments all around at the 2018 Golden Globes, but the biggest win went to Oprah Winfrey, who became the first black woman to win the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award for outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry. In an acceptance speech that made all of us cry, Oprah lauded “all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.” One of these women was Recy Taylor, who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 97.
Taylor was abducted and raped by six white men on September 3, 1944 while walking home from Rock Hill Holiness Church in her hometown of Abbeville, Alabama. The men threatened to kill her if she spoke up —but she did. Taylor’s case never went to trial, even after one of her rapists confessed.
“I didn’t go out at night. And then I got afraid of living right there after that happened too, ’cause I was afraid that maybe something else might happen,” Taylor told NPR decades later in 2011.
Her story was brought to the attention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Rosa Parks helped to organize a national campaign. It was only in 2010 that the case resurfaced with the publication of historian Danielle L. McGuire’s At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance. Finally, following the book’s publication, the Alabama Legislature released a public apology, calling their failure to take action “morally abhorrent and repugnant,” according to The New York Times.
“She lived as we all have lived,” Oprah said. “Too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men.”
Taylor is the subject of an upcoming 2018 documentary, The Rape of Recy Taylor.
Watch Oprah’s acceptance speech here:
Top photo via Vimeo
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