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Nancy Buirksi’s documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor centers on a brutal sexual assault in Abbeville, Alabama in 1944. A 24-year-old African American wife and mother, coming home from a sanctified church service with a friend and her son, was forced into a car at gunpoint, and gang raped by six young white men. The beating heart of the film is the on-screen testimony of Taylor’s younger brother, Robert Corbitt, and her younger sister, Alma Daniels, who convey the unspeakably cruel and vicious character of the attack: Corbitt repeats the perpetrators’ directions to Recy: “They said they wanted her to act just like she was in bed with her husband.” Daniels vehemently emphasized the physical and psychological trauma: “What they did to my sister…you know my sister didn’t have any more kids after that, and never got pregnant after that.” Her description is searing: ”They didn’t only have sex with her, after they got through mutilating her, they played in her body.” Corbitt and Taylor’s powerful testimony and eloquent outrage push viewers to come face to face with the deep-rooted and everyday white male culture of entitlement to Black women’s bodies that lies at the heart of white supremacy, exacting unbearable costs on Black women, Black families, and Black communities.


Author's submitted manuscript. Published in the Journal of American History:

Judith E. Smith, The Rape of Recy Taylor, Journal of American History, Volume 105, Issue 3, December 2018, Pages 782–785,



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