By Danielle L. McGuire, a writer and assistant professor in the history department at Wayne State University. Watch a trailer here about her new book, At the Dark End of the Street: A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power.
On Thursday May 12, 2011, I will help honor Rosa Parks as a champion for human dignity and pay tribute to Mrs. Recy Taylor, a living legend and civil rights heroine that most people have never heard of, at the National Press Club.
I first met Recy Taylor while doing research for my book, At the Dark End of the Street: A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. For 67 years, Recy Taylor has been patiently waiting for justice. In Abbeville, Ala., in the fall of 1944, seven white men with guns and knives kidnapped and brutally assaulted her and then threatened to kill her if she told. Somehow Taylor, an African American mother and sharecropper, found the courage to tell her husband, her father, and the local sheriff the details of the assault. Taylor’s testimony was part of a longstanding tradition among African American women, who suffered similar abuses from slavery through the better part of the 20th century. A few days after Taylor’s attack, the Montgomery NAACP promised to send their very best investigator.
Her name was Rosa Parks.