Ask Abbeville to Apologize for Cover Up of Jim Crow-Era Gang Rape
  • Petitioned Ryan Blalock

This petition was delivered to:

Mayor, Abbeville
Ryan Blalock
Abbeville Council Member
Terry Allums
Abbeville Council Member
Lucky Armstrong
Abbeville Council Member
Greg Grimsley
Abbeville Council Member
Billy Helms
Abbeville Council Member
Betty Yoder

Ask Abbeville to Apologize for Cover Up of Jim Crow-Era Gang Rape

    1. Robert Corbitt
    2. Petition by

      Robert Corbitt

      Abbeville, AL

May 2011


On Sunday, May 8, 91-year-old Recy Taylor went to church in her hometown of Abbeville, Alabama, for a special purpose: to accept an apology from the State of Alabama for its "morally abhorrent and repugnant" conduct in response to her 1944 gang-rape.

The group of white men who admitted to the assault were never brought to trial, while Taylor and her family suffered threats and slander from law enforcement engaged in covering up the crime. The long-overdue apology came after nearly 20,000 members signed a petition from Taylor's youngest brother, Robert Corbitt, demanding an apology from the City of Abbeville and State of Alabama.

Corbitt, now in his 70s, had been working to get an apology for his sister -- who he says was like a mother to him growing up -- ever since his retirement. He was thrilled at how, after years of work, the launch of the petition motivated a state apology in less than three months.

When Rep. Dexter Grimsley, himself an Abbeville native, introduced the state resolution, he vowed that he would personally deliver it to Recy Taylor upon passage, and he made good on that promise, giving Taylor the apology in front of family and friends at a local church. The resolution, signed by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on April 28th, expresses “profound regret for the role played by the government of the State of Alabama in failing to prosecute the crimes."

Recy Taylor was also honored May 12 at a National Press Club event, "Reintroducing Rosa," which was inspired by the book that brought Taylor's story to light: Danielle McGuire's At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance.

On Monday, May 16th, the Abbeville City Council heard from Robert and the Alabama NAACP, and agreed to write a letter of regret to Recy Taylor. Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock also offered a personal apology for the dark deeds of the city's past.

Update 5/8/11: Recy Taylor was presented with an official state apology resolution, passed by the Alabama legislature and signed by the governor, at an Abbeville church on Mother's Day! Now the campaign turns its focus to the city level apology.

Nearly 70 years ago, Recy Taylor was gang-raped at gunpoint. Her attackers admitted to kidnapping and raping her. And nothing was ever done about it.

As a young African-American woman living in Abbeville, Alabama, in 1944, when Jim Crow laws institutionalized discrimination against black people, her hopes of legal redress were slim. Though Taylor's cause gained international attention through the efforts of a well-known civil and human rights activist, Rosa Parks, she couldn't force racist and sexist law enforcement in Abbeville to take action.

Today, Recy Taylor's name and story have been swept under the rug and go largely unrecognized in America. "The sheriff never even said he was sorry it happened. I think more people should know about it … but ain't nobody [in Abbeville] saying nothing," Taylor lamented in an interview with The Root.

Her brother, Robert Corbitt, has spent the last decade of his retirement searching for information on her case and seeking a long-delayed justice, after Taylor broke down into tears while telling him about the gang rape 55 years after the fact. "I'd like a public apology from the city of Abbeville and the state of Alabama," Corbitt asks, and Taylor agrees that this simple measure represents the least that could be done, after police took the lead in covering up the horrific assault against her.

Help Recy Taylor get the apology she deserves and public recognition of the injustice perpetrated by signing this petition to Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock and the City Concil Members.

Photo credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Recent signatures


    1. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Tonight, Recy Taylor was honored at the National Press Club. Cynthia Gordy writes about the event, "Reintroducing Rosa," at the Root:

    2. Reached 20 signatures
    3. Recy Taylor Gets Alabama Apology for Gang-Rape, Waits on City of Abbeville

      Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Sunday, 91-year-old Recy Taylor went to church in Abbeville, Alabama. Now a Florida resident, she made the trip to her old hometown for a special purpose: Taylor was finally receiving an apology from the State of Alabama for its "morally abhorrent...

    4. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      "We're Sorry, So Sorry": Southern Belle writes about this April as a month of apologies. Will the AL Governor make Recy's apology official before the month is out?

    5. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      The Grio on why this case still reverberates for black people today:

    6. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      The AP covers the apology for Recy Taylor

    7. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      “I’m waiting for the ink to dry and then I’ll feel like it’s official,” Robert Corbitt tells Colorlines regarding state apology for Recy Taylor now awaiting governor's signature:

    8. Apology for 1944 Gang Rape Victim Recy Taylor Heads to AL Gov. Bentley

      Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer members like you are bringing about some amazing successes on the Recy Taylor campaign: yesterday, the Alabama Senate passed the resolution apologizing for the state's role in covering up the African-American woman's Jim Crow-era...

    9. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Recy Taylor continues to wait for the Senate to pass the apology for her! Make sure they do so.

    10. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      The Root writer Cynthia Gordy chats about the Recy Taylor campaign -- listen here:

    11. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      From The Defenders Online: "Before you 'like,' comment, post or Tweet, pause and give thought to the cases of Shirley Sherrod and Recy Taylor, which vividly demonstrate the power of news transmitted via new and social media to drive public opinion, spark strong responses and change lives for the better—or for worse."

    12. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      The Cold Case Project covers the Alabama House's astounding apology to Recy Taylor:

    13. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      “This couldn’t have happened without Danielle McGuire, The Root, and Colorlines. Your articles really put a lot of pressure on the officials,” Robert Corbitt, Recy's brother, told The Root.

    14. Reached 17 signatures
    15. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Resolution went to the Senate today -- is current in the Committee on Rules. Next active day: April 5.

    16. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Alabama Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, who represents Abbeville, expects apology to pass -- the Senate is back in session today!

    17. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Full text of apology resolution in Ben Greenberg's excellent Colorlines post:

    18. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      The Root says: Finally! An official Alabama House apology for Recy

    19. Alabama House Passes Apology for Recy Taylor's Jim Crow-Era Gang Rape

      Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      A huge milestone in the campaign for justice for Recy Taylor today: the Alabama State House passed an apology for authorities' mishandling of the African-American woman's 1944 gang-rape. This comes after over 16,000 members signed a...

    20. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Breaking success: the Alabama House passes an apology resolution for Recy Taylor! More info to come.

    21. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Paper in Florida, where Recy now lives, picks up her story:

    22. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      More blogs pick up on Recy's case:

    23. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Feministing coverage of Recy Taylor campaign:

    24. Reached 15 signatures
    25. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Ben Greenberg's Colorlines article on the personal apology for Recy Taylor:


    Reasons for signing

    • Rhonda Stevens OZARK, AL
      • about 2 years ago

      Because all white people are not animals like the men that raped her. I want her to know that. Also, I want to see Abbeville do the right thing.

    • Mr. Michael McDonald WESTLAND, MI
      • over 2 years ago

      Dear, Recy Taylo I would just like to wish you a great victory ,because what you have had to bear

      all of thee's years and now just getting an apology still shows how fare we still have to go .

      just because america has a black president dose not mean all the apples in the barrel is ripe

      this is a great day in life for you and I too apologies for a country that still measure people by

      the color of there skin not by the content of their character .

    • Su Kendrick EL SOBRANTE, CA
      • over 3 years ago

      Such vulgaltry, I can clearly see the hurt and pain in your lovely face. I will help you and honor you.

    • Diane Conroy GENESEE, ID
      • over 3 years ago

      Woman need to be addressed on all levels.

      I am the woman nicknamed "America" of striped ties, wearing hats, American flags, not wearing ties, of poems and comments, unvoluntarily on YouTube. In 2005 I began by calling the Seattle PI and made comments about George Bush, Congress and Karl Rove. Since 2005, I have been monitored by the NSA or some such organization. It's 2011 and I wonder if willing to admit this is happening?

      We are a legitimate Non-profit assoc. for a historical museum.

    • James E. Owens DETROIT, MI 48203, MI
      • over 3 years ago

      One nation under God with liberty and justice for all? How long will He allow us to suppress the evidence?


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