18 Jan USA Today | Black lawmakers to salute Alabama’s Recy Taylor at State of the Union
WASHINGTON — The rapists of Recy Taylor, a black Alabama woman, were never brought to justice.
In her honor, black lawmakers will wear red pins to President Trump’s state of the union later this month.
“We cannot forget the many marginalized women who have spoken up, spoken out and have long been ignored,” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, the New Jersey Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus who is leading the effort, tweeted late Wednesday. “In this effort, we must also acknowledge the inequities in acknowledging our suffering and the failure of judicial system in administering justice.”
Recy Taylor was raped by six white men in 1944 while walking home from church in Abbeville, Ala. Despite death threats if she spoke up, Taylor, then 24, reported the crime. The men were never brought to trial, but Taylor’s case drew national attention. The case is credited with helping spur action against and attention to sexual violence during the Jim Crow era.
Taylor — whose story has been the subject of recent media, and who was saluted by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes Sunday — died last month at 97 years old.
The House floor tribute to Taylor — with her first name featured on the red buttons to be worn by members — comes as the country focuses on a wave of accusations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood power players, journalists and politicians.
It also comes as people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted share their stories as part of the #MeToo social media campaign.
“Given her history and the seminal moment she had within the civil rights movement she is a shining example of our sordid past, but our desire to right that wrong and to ensure that as …we move forward we are inclusive of all voices,’’ said Kirsten Allen, a spokeswoman for Watson Coleman.
Watson is co-chair of the CBC’s Black Women and Girls Caucus, which hosted a forum last month on issues impacting the groups, including sexual harassment.
Additionally, House Democratic women plan to wear black at Trump’s state of the union in protest of sexual harassment, following in the stead of actors who did the same at the Golden Globes.
It won’t be the first time Democratic women have stood in solidarity on the House floor.
Last February, House Democratic women, including Watson Coleman and Sewell, wore white to represent women’s suffrage to Trump’s first joint address to Congress.