Jim Crow's Dominion of Black Women

The untimely death of young Emmett Till served as a catalyst for the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. African Americans displayed solidarity and took direct action to fight against racial oppression. Let's be clear this was not the first time. It is easy for Americans to remember the Civil Rights Movement because television and radio served as the medium. African Americans have always fought against racial oppression. Another atrocity that gave birth to the movement was the disturbing phenomena of sexual violence exacted upon black women.

Rosa Parks

Jo Ann Robinson

Alabama civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Jo Ann Robinson fought for the liberation of black women. In 1955 they organized a one-day bus boycott. It served as an effort to inaugurate awareness and pursue justice for black women who were sexually assaulted by white men. The protest gained momentum and bankrupted the economy of Montgomery, Alabama.

On September 3, 1944 sharecropper, wife, and mother Recy Taylor was kidnapped and raped at gunpoint in Abbeville, Alabama. She was attacked by seven white men. She was offered $100 from each of her attackers. None of the men were sentenced to incarceration. In 2011 67 years after her attack the state of Alabama and State Representative Dexter Grimsley issued an apology for the failure to prosecute her attackers.
Recy Taylor Present Day

In 1959, in Tallahassee, Florida A&M University, Betty Jean Owens was kidnapped and gang-raped by four white men. She was raped seven times. All of the men were prosecuted and served life sentences in prison.

Most black women and young girls were lured by white men with the promise of working opportunities. In most cases they were attacked at work and after work. After work they were abducted and held at gunpoint. Some black women were sexually assaulted in public spaces such as taxicabs and trains. Black women expressed their contempt of these monstrosities. Danielle L. McGuire At the Dark End of the Street Black Women, Rape a Resistance- a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power states the following. " Before radical feminists in the women's movement urged rape survivors to speak out African American women's public protests galvanized local, national, and even international outrage and sparked larger campaigns for racial justice and human dignity." Rape was used as a mechanism to preserve white patriarchy and racial hierarchy.

Atlanta Black Star
"9 Disturbing Facts About Sexual Violence Against Our Women Under Jim Crow"
Melanie Mc Coy
May 28, 2015

Danielle L. McGuire At the Dark End of the Street Black Women , Rape a Resistance- a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power

Toni's Thoughts: I should not be surprised that African American women endured sexual violence and humiliation during the Jim Crow Era but I am surprised. I am shocked.  I was not aware that this served as another catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. I wonder why it has never been addressed in more classroom settings. Now that I have this knowledge I believe more people should be made aware of this sensitive subject.


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