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 Change.org 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 Change.org 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.