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We’ve lost another civil rights hero.

Recy Taylor, 97, passed away yesterday.

As a black woman living in Alabama, she went #MeToo when doing so could have gotten her killed.

In 1944, then a 24-year-old sharecropper’s wife with young children, she stood up against six white men who abducted her at gunpoint and gang-raped her. They threatened to kill her if she went to the police, but she did anyway. Two separate all-white male grand juries refused to indict her assailants, even though they admitted their involvement to police. She received dozens of death threats and her home was firebombed.

The incident made national headlines and provoked protests. The case was investigated for the NAACP by Rosa Parks, who was a not-yet-famous activist at the time.

Taylor was a pioneer for human rights in America’s long struggle for civil rights. Especially at this time, when part of our electorate has fallen under the spell of a leader who promotes white nationalism and uses racist rhetoric to exploit the prejudices of his voting base, her story is an important reminder of how hard that struggle was, and how high the stakes are now. We must not give up what was won by people like her. Not an inch of it.

 


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