Imagine, the year is 1944.
You are a 24 year-old Black woman living in Abbeville, Alabama. You’re a young mother walking home from church and your aim is to return home so that you may execute your maternal and wifely duties for a family that you love, and they love you. The day seems lovely, as you have just finished praising The Lord with “good” folk who believe that despite whatever is going on in the world, The Lord has them covered. But sometimes, even while The Lord has you covered, the devil slips in.
In route home, you are suddenly kidnapped by six armed white men. While you are in their captivity, they brutally gang-rape you and then leave you blindfolded on the side of the road. When you finally return home, the next night your home is firebombed as a warning for you to let well enough be. At least you’re was alive, right? Horrible, huh?
Well imagine this…
You spend the rest of your young life seeking justice, even working with a young Rosa Parks who served as an investigator for the NAACP in efforts to bring attention to this vicious attack. Days turn into months and months become years. Before you know it, your youth fades away. As your come to terms with the fact–your attackers never faced justice.
After reaching the ripe age of 91 and finally the state acknowledges you as a victim of sexual violence. Well past the statute of limitations, a formalized apology, citing the state’s failure to prosecute “as morally abhorrent and repugnant.” This your only form of justice.
You can’t imagine this.
But Mrs. Recy Taylor not only lived this, but survived it. Taylor would go on to use her story as a testament that one could overcome of sexual violence and never give up her voice. She lived to be 97, before passing away 10 days ago, on December 28, 2017. She is the mother of the #MeToo movement.
Last night at the Golden Globe Awards, dressed in black, Oprah Winfrey spoke openly to the world.
Taking the stage to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honor which highlights outstanding contributions to entertainment. Still, Oprah used her acceptance speech to appeal to broader social issues.
Standing before the audience, who also dressed in black–to stand united with Hollywood’s #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns against sexual violence and misconduct. Oprah highlighted the struggle of Mrs. Taylor:
Recy Taylor died ten days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.
And I just hope — I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on.
The #MeeToo movement was created by Tarana Burke 20 years ago in 1997 (way before Alyssa Milano ever used the hashtag and it went viral). Burke while mentoring a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually abused, decided to create a safe space for women like herself women who had experienced sexual violence. Her belief was that no sister should ever feel alone. In 2017, the #MeToo movement took on a new momentum and has been embraced by both men and women.