Recy Taylor was born on December 31, 1919 in a small town Abbeville, Alabama. Recy was a sharecropper, wife, mother, and an devoted church goer, but on September 3, 1944 at the age 24 Recy life was about to make a change.
The Rape, Outcome and Aftermath
Recy was a member of the Rock Hill Holiness Church, in Abbeville, Alabama. On the Sunday of September 3, near midnight the Holiness Church finish up with service. Recy Taylor was walking home with her friend Fannie Daniel and Fannie’s eighteen year old son West Daniel, When a rattletrap green Chevrolet pass them three times on the four time around the Chevrolet pull up on the side of the road slowly, young white men began gawking at them. When the Chevrolet came to an stop seven boys armed with knives and guns got out the car and walked towards Recy and her friends. The ring leader and oldest of the crew was 24 year old private in the United States Army Herbert Lovett. Recy, Fannie, and West kept walking trying not to make eye contact with the White boys, when Lovett screamed “Halt!”. They ignored the command and Lovett leveled his shot gun and gabbed Recy arm. Herbert then accused Recy of cutting a white boy in Clopton that evening. Fannie told Herbert that Recy was with her all day so it was impossible that Recy have done such a thing. Herbert then turns to his other accomplices and ask is she the one and they said “yep that’s the one”. Herbert turned to West and asked if Recy was his wife and West replied “No, she’s Willie Guy Taylor’s wife.” Herbert extended his hand to West and ordered him to shake it, and promise not to hurt Recy, he claim they was going to take Recy down to the station for some questioning and they was going to bring her right back. Recy was thrown into the back of the Chevrolet and they drove off. West and his mother immediately ran to the Taylor’s home and told Recy husband and her parents what just happened.
Now in the back of the Chevrolet with seven armed white boys, Recy must have been scared out her mind. The Chevrolet then turns onto an dirt road. Recy asked the men where are you taking me but no one responded. The car came to an stop and Recy was pulled out of the car and ordered by Herbert to take her rags off. Crying and scared Recy took off her clothes. Recy then begged to return her home to her Husband and infant child but the assailant ignored her request and ordered Recy to lie down in the dirt. Herbert then told his accomplice to have at her, he then looked at Recy and said “You better act like you do with your husband or I will cut your damn throat”. Recy was then raped by the six boys including Lovett.
Recy other attackers was later identified Dillard York, Billy Howerton, Luther Lee, Joe Culpepper, Robert Gamble, Hugo Wilson, and of course the ring leader himself Herbert Lovett. After they was finish raping Recy the boys then blind folded her and dropped her off they told her not to remover her blind fold until they where gone. When Recy heard the car was gone she removed her blind fold and ran home. Her family was happy she wasn’t died but after Recy told them what had happened they immediately went to the sheriff and reported the rape incident. West and Fannie identified the car. The car was immediately identified as belonging to Hugo Wilson. When Wilson was questioned he admitted to picking up Recy, but pinned the rape on the other six boys. Even though Hugo identified the other assailants and that a rape in fact did take place, the sheriff never brought in the others for questioning and Hugo was fined $250. This brought outraged in the African American Community. Letters was piling up at NAACP office. NAACP sent Rosa Parks to investigate the rape. Rosa Parks took her finds back to NAACP in Montgomery where she started to form a defense for Recy. The NAACP was able to get a trial, the trial took place on October 3-4, with an all white jury. The jury refuse to charge and of the white boys with rape. Recy supporters got other trial and again Recy was let down with the same outcome. Recy was living in fear before and after the trials. She and her family began receiving threats. Recy family wouldn’t leave the house after dark, but Recy was so much in fear she wouldn’t leave even in the day time. A friend of the family Benny Corbitt took guard in a tree every night. After the phony second trial many of the white people in the town continued to treat Recy and her family badly even after the her attackers left. Recy and her family eventually moved to Florida where she still lives.
- In 2011, at the age 92 the Alabama House of Representatives apologized to Recy Taylor on behalf of the state “for its failure to prosecute her attackers.” State Representative Dexter Grimsley, along with Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock and Henry County Probate Judge JoAnn Smith, also apologized to Taylor for her treatment.
- Recy Taylor received the apologies on Mother’s Day in 2011, when she visited Rock Hill Holiness Church in Abbeville, the very church where she was kidnapped. “I felt good,” she said. “That was a good day to present it to me. I wasn’t expecting that.”
- In 2011, Recy Taylor visited the White House and attended a forum on Rosa Parks at the National Press Club.