Recy Taylor, who fought for justice after 1944 rape, dies

ABBEVILLE, Ala. – Recy Taylor, a black Alabama woman whose rape by six white men in 1944 drew national attention, died Thursday. She was 97.

Taylor died in her sleep in a nursing home in Abbeville, her brother Robert Corbitt said. He said Taylor was in a good mood the previous day and her sudden death was. She would have been 98 on Sunday.

Taylor was 24 when she was kidnapped and raped as she walked home from church in Abbeville. Her attackers set her on the side of the road in a remote area. The NAACP assigned Rosa Parks to investigate the case, and they rally support for justice for Taylor.

Two-white, all-male grand juries declined to indict the six white men who admitted to authorities that they assaulted her.

In a 2010 interview, Taylor told The Associated Press that she believes the men who attacked her are dead, but they would still like an apology from the officials.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Taylor said. “The people who done this for me … she can’t do it without apologizing. Most of them is gone.”

The Alabama Legislature passed a resolution apologizing to her in 2011.

Taylor’s story, along with that of other black women attacked by white men during the civil rights era, is told in ” At the Dark End of the Street,” a book by Danielle McGuire, was released in 2010. A documentary about her case, “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” was released this year.

“It’s Recy Taylor and other rare black women like her, who spoke up first when the danger was greatest,” Nancy Buirski, the documentary director told NBC News in an e-mail. “It is this strong women’s voices of the’ 40’s and early 50’s and their efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other movements that followed, particularly the one we are witnessing today.”

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