Confirmed victory
Petitioning Mayor, Abbeville Ryan Blalock and 5 others

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

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

Letter to
Mayor, Abbeville Ryan Blalock
Abbeville Council Member Terry Allums
Abbeville Council Member Lucky Armstrong
and 3 others
Abbeville Council Member Greg Grimsley
Abbeville Council Member Billy Helms
Abbeville Council Member Betty Yoder
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.

Today, Recy Taylor wants a public apology from the city of Abbeville and the state of Alabama for the failure of justice and the cover-up of the crime by local law enforcement. Now in her 90s, she continues to be pained by the way in which the horrific assault was swept under the rug. A public recognition of the profound injustice committed against her, a second violation, is the least that can be done.

On Sunday, May 8, Recy Taylor got half of what she has hoped for and deserves: an official apology resolution from the State of Alabama. The apology was presented to Taylor at a local church by Abbeville native and State Rep. Dexter Grimsley. The state legislature and governor are to be applauded for their swift action, which has meant so much to Mrs. Taylor and her family. Now it's up to Abbeville to follow suit; I am asking the City Council to pass an apology resolution for Recy Taylor at its next meeting.

"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. Taylor's 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.

As a young African-American woman living in Abbeville, Alabama, in 1944, when Jim Crow laws institutionalized discrimination against black people, Taylor's hopes of legal redress were slim. Though her cause gained international attention through the efforts of a well-known civil and human rights activist, Rosa Parks, she couldn't force the racist and sexist Abbeville law enforcement of the time to take action. Recy Taylor represents uncounted black women who suffered sexual violence with no hope of redress and deserve recognition.

But you have the power to do something to in measure right this profound wrong now, by supporting an apology resolution. You can demonstrate that today, the city of Abbeville as well as the state of Alabama recognizes the injustices of your past and take responsibility for doing what you can to correct such dark spots in your history. And you can help bring comfort to a gang rape survivor and her family, who have suffered too long in search of some kind of closure.

Please pass a resolution officially apologizing to Recy Taylor for the historical racism and sexism in Abbeville and Alabama's failure to prosecute her case as it deserved, for the cover-up by law enforcement, and for leaving her waiting for decades for justice.