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24-year-old black mom and sharecropper. Following the rape, she refused to be silenced and spoke up with help from the NAACP’s arch rape questioner Rosa Parks. When Parks went to pronounce Taylor, the internal policeman kept pushing by the residence and eventually detonate in, melancholy Parks with detain if she didn’t leave town. Parks left and then launched the Alabama Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor, triggering a transformation to find probity 11 years before Parks became a polite rights favourite for refusing to give up her train chair to a white man, rising the Montgomery train boycott. We pronounce with the film’s director, Nancy Buirski, and with Yale historian Crystal Feimster, author of “Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We spin now to a new film that looks at what happened in 1944 when a 24-year-old black mom and sharecropper was gang-raped in Alabama and refused to be silenced. This is a clip from the trailer of the documentary, The Rape of Recy Taylor.
RECY TAYLOR: I saw the automobile lift up behind me. Some white boys. we mean, they didn’t contend zero about what they were going to do to me. They put me in the car, then went blindfold me. we was vagrant them to leave me alone, don’t fire me. I’ve got to go home to see about my baby. They wouldn’t let me go. we can’t help but tell the truth, what they finished to me.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Recy Taylor herself, describing what happened the night 6 white boys abducted and brutally raped her as she walked home from a church service in Abbeville, Alabama. After the men raped Taylor, they left her on the side of a forlorn road, where she was found by her father.
This is another clip from the film The Rape of Recy Taylor. This starts with her brother, Robert Corbitt, followed by her sister, Alma Daniels. They explain what happened to Recy Taylor the night she was raped.
ALMA DANIELS: What they did to her—and, you know, my sister didn’t have any some-more kids after that and never got profound after that. And they didn’t only just have sex with her. After they got by mutilating her, they played in her body.
ROBERT CORBITT: I don’t know if she was feeling pain or what. That was—that was after they kept her about 4 or 5 hours down in the woods. Seven guys, one night. They pronounced they wanted her to act just like she was going to be with her husband.
AMY GOODMAN: The boys had warned Taylor regularly that they would kill her if she spoke out. But despite the threats, Recy Taylor identified her rapists, yet few women spoke up, in fear for their lives. In fact, the rape of black women by white men was so common in Jim Crow South that the NAACP had a arch rape investigator. That person was nothing other than Rosa Parks. When Rosa Parks went to pronounce Recy Taylor—we’re articulate 11 years before the Montgomery train boycott—the internal policeman kept pushing by the residence and eventually detonate in, melancholy Rosa Parks with detain if she didn’t leave town. Parks left and then launched the Alabama Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor, triggering a transformation to find justice—again, 11 years before Rosa Parks became that polite rights favourite for refusing to give up her train chair to a white man, rising the Montgomery train boycott.
For more, we’re assimilated by Nancy Buirski, the writer and executive of The Rape of Recy Taylor, and we’re assimilated by Professor Crystal Feimster. She’s an associate highbrow of African American studies at Yale University, interviewed in the film, and author of the book Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching.
We acquire you both to Democracy Now! Nancy Buirski, let’s start with you, since you took on this film. What an unusual moment for it to be shown, in the midst of the #MeToo movement. And, again, amplify this story of Recy Taylor and what eventually happened to her.
NANCY BUIRSKI: You know, Recy Taylor is amazingly bold for speaking up. As you mentioned, very few women did that. They were fearful for their lives. Their families would be threatened, and their friends’ livelihoods would be threatened. So, what she did was extraordinary. And, you know, we finished this film before this #MeToo movement. We had no thought that this would all erupt. But now, as we demeanour back on it, we comprehend that Recy Taylor’s story is the first couple in a prolonged chain. It may—not even the first link. It really goes back to slavery. But it is a very pivotal couple in a sequence that goes right by the polite rights movement, right up by Black Power, and apparently is resolved today.
AMY GOODMAN: And Recy Taylor, what happened? What was—what were the investigations? You have Rosa Parks, this amazing—
NANCY BUIRSKI: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —story of Rosa Parks going to Abbeville. This is what encouraged Rosa Parks, what propelled her.
NANCY BUIRSKI: You know, they had a grand jury review shortly after the rape. we consider that took place in October. The rape took place in September. She did not get any justice. You know, she identified her rapists, but, to no one’s surprise, these guys were not indicted. And that’s when Rosa Parks stairs in and says, “We have to put some-more vigour on the governor. We have to get some kind of justice.” So she comes to Abbeville. She interviews Recy Taylor. She gets kicked out of the—Abbeville by the sheriff. She comes back. She interviews her again. And she takes her up to Montgomery, where she forms this Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor. And what this—what this does, basically, is it triggers the black newspapers to write about this story. And black newspapers were the only newspapers that were minute these stories in those days. The white newspapers, they didn’t conceal it, they just abandoned it. It wasn’t important.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, the film highlights the role of the black press, that it played in documenting and publicizing what happened to Recy Taylor. This clip starts with publisher and romantic Esther Cooper Jackson, followed by Danielle McGuire. McGuire is the author of At the Dark End of the Street, the book that desirous the film.
ESTHER COOPER JACKSON: The only place we really were means to tell articles about Recy and others was through The Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Amsterdam News, the Baltimore, etc.—through the black press.
DANIELLE McGUIRE: It’s partial of the kind of infrastructure of injustice, where the white press ignores these kinds of crimes, and then—and then there’s no record of them happening, which gives judges and juries trustworthy deniability of any knowledge, and maybe this is a rumor. You know, it’s not even in the newspaper. And that’s since it’s so critical that the black press publishes these stories.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was historian Danielle McGuire. We’re also assimilated by Crystal Feimster, associate highbrow of African American studies at Yale University, author of Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching. Professor Feimster, could you pronounce about the role of the African-American press, papers like The Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Baltimore Afro-American, that were really exposing a lot of what was happening in the Jim Crow South, since they were in the North and were means to do that?
CRYSTAL FEIMSTER: Right. The African-American press, of course, played a outrageous role in exposing white violence, quite against African-American women and men via the Jim Crow South. Most mostly those stories were—stories about rape were told by the stories about lynching, right? And that’s what my work has focused on, that arrange of longer history. And we can’t consider about the press and not consider about Frederick Douglass’s journal or Ida B. Wells’s anti-lynching campaign and how black folks have mobilized the press. we mean, we can consider about, in this stream moment, how folks muster social media as an outlet, but, yes, African Americans in the black press were key, not just to Recy’s case, but to all the work that black organizations, like the NAACP, were doing in the early 20th century. So, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you pronounce about what happened to her, what happened to Recy Taylor, the startling fearlessness? After she’s raped, and they tell her, “We will kill you unless you guarantee not to contend a word,” she immediately spoke out. And pronounce about the investigations that that led to over the decades. This story condemned Alabama for decades. And then what happened in 2011 in the Alabama state Legislature?
CRYSTAL FEIMSTER: Right. So, much of what we know about Recy Taylor and her case comes from Danielle McGuire’s investigate for The Dark End of the Street and also from what Robert Corbitt tells us, what Recy continues to tell us and continues to attest about even today. And we get to hear her voice in Nancy’s pleasing film.
But we know that Recy comes home. We know that she tells her husband, her father what happens to her. She goes before two grand juries—right?—to attest and brand the immature boys who gang-raped her that night. As we know, Esther Cooper comes in and does an investigation. There’s a letter-writing campaign, right? There are unions that organize. As we’ve already mentioned, the black press picks up the story. And it’s there that the story moves. It becomes not just a inhabitant story, but an general story, right? And the campaign for Recy continues, right?
But, ultimately, after those two grand juries refused to accuse on interest of Recy’s case, as Danielle McGuire’s work reveals, is that the transformation moves on, in some ways. And that’s not to contend that they’re no longer invested in—investigating rape cases of black women, but the cases keep coming. They keep—there are new cases every day of black women being assaulted by white men. And so they take on new cases, and they try to pull those cases forward.
And Recy, you know, goes back to her life and her family and continues to live, but has a tough life. We know that her daughter dies in a comfortless automobile accident. We know that her matrimony falls apart. But she continues to live, to live her life, and to pronounce about—speak out about what happened to her. She never shies divided from that story or backs down. And we consider she says it eloquently in the film, that she had to pronounce the law about what happened to her. And just since there wasn’t probity in the case, she wasn’t silenced. And many women who spoke up after her refused to be silenced. we consider there is a prolonged tradition of black women speaking to passionate attack and passionate violence, even when probity isn’t an option.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Nancy Buirski, in the film, you also embody a minute from Rosa Parks, where she talks about an attempted rape against her by someone in 1931, much earlier.
NANCY BUIRSKI: Correct. She is a nanny in a white home. And, of course, this happened frequently to nannies, where, you know, the caretaker—I mean, she was the caretaker. So she is approached by a person in the neighborhood, and she persuades him not to rape her. This is what’s extraordinary. She actually talks him out of it. And that minute reflects her beliefs and what she fundamentally says to him.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to that letter.
NANCY BUIRSKI: OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Parks herself. The man, whom she called “Mr. Charlie,” had come into the residence where she worked while the family was out for the evening. He has a drink, puts his palm on her waist, propositions her. This is the film.
ROSA PARKS: [read by Cynthia Erivo] we knew that no matter what happened, we would never produce to this white man’s bestiality. we was prepared and peaceful to die. But give any consent, never.
AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Parks, who goes on to write, “If he wanted to kill me and rape a passed body, he was acquire but he would have to kill me first.”
NANCY BUIRSKI: You know, it’s unusual when you consider that even she didn’t pronounce up immediately. This minute is created years after that occurrence took place. And she used it as an essay, to communicate what had happened to her to many some-more people, and, ideally, commission other people to pronounce up finally. But that’s an example, to me, of how formidable it was to pronounce up in those days. One of the reasons that we know so little about this entire, what we consider an epic story is that the few women who spoke up, if they did pronounce up, it was mostly not reported. We didn’t find out about it.
You know, when lynching took place in the Deep South, that was meant to be visible. It was a apparatus of terrorism, and it was meant to tell people where their place was—black—African Americans. But women weren’t treated the same way. They were raped also as a apparatus of terrorism, but it was also a sermon of thoroughfare for a lot of these guys. And, we mean, they had been brought up with a genius that you have a right to do this, you have a right to take advantage of a black woman’s body. And so, not only did the women not pronounce up, but conjunction did their husbands, since if their husbands fought back, they’d be lynched.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wish to go to another—
CRYSTAL FEIMSTER: I also think—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, I’m sorry, go ahead.
CRYSTAL FEIMSTER: No, we was going to contend that we also consider that, you know, what Rosa Parks’ minute reveals and, we think, what the film reveals and the arrange of longer story on passionate attack against black women reveals is that while black women may not have had a open height in which to pronounce out and to have an audience, that black women resisted passionate assault. And the way that they spoke out mostly was in their behavior, in the way that they fought back. And we see that resilience and that outspokenness in Rosa Parks’ difference to Mr. Charlie, right?
And we consider that that’s where historians find a resources of sources—right?—around how black women protested, since they didn’t have normal outlets—the white press, right?—or an assembly that was auspicious or meddlesome in passionate attack and attack against black women. They had to find choice ways to fight back and to pronounce back. And infrequently that was by the way that they resisted the violence. And infrequently it was holding those cases to the internal sheriff, and oftentime with little or no result, right?
So, we consider there may be a way to kind of consider about the arrange of spectrum in which—in ways that women do pronounce out, even yet it doesn’t arrange of fit how we consider women should be speaking out in kind of this #MeToo moment, since we consider we all know that these things happen—right?—and that there is a silence, but there is a way that that overpower mostly speaks volumes. So we consider it’s important. And we consider that both Danielle and Nancy’s work kind of reveals the kind of different ways in which women pronounce out in protest.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Nancy, what kind of pushback did you get when you went to the Alabama city where this all occurred to try to pronounce people about it, who were—people who were still alive?
NANCY BUIRSKI: We tried to pronounce many some-more people who finish up in the—than who you see in the film. There were white businessmen that we wanted to pronounce with, and they close us out, basically. You see in the film a few kin of the rapists, who pronounce to us. And frankly, we was astounded they did. we consider that, on some level, they’re in some kind of denial, since they use euphemisms to pronounce about what their brothers had done. So I’m not certain they quite—either they don’t accept what they did, or they don’t how to pronounce about it.
But in terms of the African Americans, they were some-more than happy to speak. And we just wish to draw courtesy to the implausible bravery of Robert Corbitt, the hermit of Recy Taylor, who has finished it his goal to display this story even today.
AMY GOODMAN: And what happened in Alabama Legislature in 2011?
NANCY BUIRSKI: They issue an apology. And—
AMY GOODMAN: That’s it?
NANCY BUIRSKI: That’s it. And, you know, the Corbitt family, Corbitt and Taylors, they trust that’s a little too little, too late, but they will accept it. we mean, there’s a extensive volume of grace in that family. And they will continue speaking of this. They will continue promulgation this summary that this kind of thing should not happen. One of the things that’s really critical to know is that no one felt any shame. Recy Taylor felt no shame. There was no reason to. She knew there was a bequest to this kind of behavior.
AMY GOODMAN: And she is alive today, Recy Taylor in Alabama.
NANCY BUIRSKI: And she is alive today. She’s still here.
AMY GOODMAN: I wish to appreciate Nancy Buirski, executive and writer of The Rape of Recy Taylor, and Crystal Feimster, associate highbrow of African American studies at Yale University, author of Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching.
And we’ll finish again on the title that came out this week: Tarana Burke, the lady who founded the #MeToo movement, will be toll in the new year in New York. She’ll be there at midnight as a lady who has oral out.