Recy Taylor, who fought for justice after being raped by six white men, dies at 97

Recy Taylor
Recy Taylor stands in Lafayette Park after touring the White House in 2011.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Recy Taylor, a black Alabama woman whose rape by six white men in 1944 drew national attention and eventually a public apology, has died at 97.

Taylor died in her sleep Thursday at a nursing home in Abbeville, Ala., her brother Robert Corbitt said. He said Taylor had been in good spirits the previous day and her death was sudden.

Taylor was 24 when she was abducted and raped as she walked home from church in Abbeville. Her attackers left her on the side of the road in an isolated area.

The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People assigned Rosa Parks to investigate the case, and she rallied support for justice for Taylor.


Two all-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 she still would like an apology from officials.

“It would mean a whole lot to me,” Taylor said. “The people who done this to me ... they can’t do no apologizing. Most of them is gone.”

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


Taylor’s story, along with those 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 released in 2010.

A documentary on her case, “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” was released last year.

“It is Recy Taylor and rare other black women like her who spoke up first when danger was greatest,” Nancy Buirski, the documentary’s director, told NBC News in an email.

“It is these strong women’s voices of the ’40s and early ’50s and their efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery bus boycott and other movements that followed, notably the one we are witnessing today.”