Sept. 3, 1944: It's nearly midnight, but services at Rock Hill Holiness Church in the small town of Abbeville have just let out. Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old (born December 31,1919) sharecropper, sets out along the town's fertile peanut plantations, accompanied for the walk home by two other worshippers from the black congregation. Moments later, a green Chevrolet rolls by -- and their routine journey takes a horrifying turn.
Wielding knives and guns, seven white men get out of the car, according to Taylor and witnesses from a state investigation of the case. One shoves Taylor in the backseat; the rest squeeze in after her and ride off. Her panicked friends run to tell the sheriff.
After parking in a deserted grove of pecan trees, the men order the young wife and mother out at gunpoint, shouting at her to undress. Six of them rape Taylor that night. Once finished, they drive her back to the road, ordering her out again before roaring off into the darkness.
Days after the brutal attack, Taylor's story traveled through word of mouth, catching the attention of a Montgomery NAACP activist named Rosa Parks. A seasoned crusader against the sexual assaults of black women by white men that were commonplace in the South, Parks would eventually help bring the case international notice. Even though the men admitted the rape to authorities, two grand juries brought no charges against Taylor's 6 rapists.
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