We spend a lot of time at the coalition discussing the intersection of oppression and sexual violence. So when it was suggested by a co-worker to read the book At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rose Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire, I jumped at the opportunity.
McGuire's book delves deep into the history of racism and rape in America. Her story predominantly focuses on the rape of 24-year-old African American sharecropper Recy Taylor. Upon reading McGuire's jarring narrative, Recy's name will forever be seared into my memory.
Recy was abducted and raped by six white men on the night of September 3, 1944, while walking home from church in Abbeville, Alabama. Following the brutal crime, two all-white, all-male grand juries refused to indict the men who raped her, despite the fact that one of them had confessed.
Throughout all of this, the local NAACP branch office sent their best investigator and organizer to Abbeville to help support Recy and her family. That person was none other than Rosa Parks. McGuire discusses Ms. Parks role in the investigation of Recy's rape, leading up to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott, McGuire explains, was a protest not only against racial violence, but also against sexual violence.
Of course we know that the abuse Recy faced was not an isolated incident. Women of color have been raped with alarming and ferocious frequency throughout history. Even today, research tells us that women of color are at a greater risk for rape. McGuire's book helps us look at the history of African American women in particular and their fight to reclaim their womanhood. It's a must-read.
Trigger warning notice: this book contains descriptions of sexual violence.
Find out more about the book "At the Dark End of the Street."
MORE ABOUT MATTY:
Matty develops and manages internal and external communications for the coalition and works to educate local media about issues of sexual violence. He also provides guidance and technical assistance on websites and web development, social media, and communication strategies to member programs across the state.