The Rape of Recy Taylor

The Rape of Recy Taylor ★★★★

The justice system failing women, and especially women of color, is not (to put it mildly) solely a historical concern, so there’s a particular urgency to this tough but essential documentary by Nancy Buirski ('The Loving Story'), about the assault, trial, and fallout of the 1944 rape of a 24-year-old African-American wife and mother in Abbeville, Alabama. “They felt that the black woman’s body didn’t belong to her,” we’re told, and Buirski places those attitudes in context – from slave rape to Jim Crow laws. And she also details how this one attack (among many) became a flashpoint in the black community, with race films and black press sharing the story without the interference of the usual gatekeepers, and how the anger it stirred prompted organization and protest. The result is an informative and bracing pre-history of the Civil Rights movement – and a valuable reminder of the role of women within it.

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