Sometimes a documentary teaches you more than you ever expected. Sometimes a doc is so relevant to the present it’s shocking. Nancy Burski’s, THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR, caught me by surprise from the very beginning. I learned not much has really changed in the past 80 years when it comes to everything I hold dear with respect to racism and sexism.
1944 brought forth a horrific event perpetrated by 6 white boys on one black woman. A married mother, minding her own business, was forced into a car at gunpoint, driven into the woods and raped. She was not believed, she was threatened, she was silenced. Nevertheless, she persisted. The film utilizes “race films” (something I had never heard of prior) and intimate sit-down interviews with Recy’s siblings. Both are extremely effective in illustrating her journey for justice. With the help of Rosa Parks, yes THE Rosa Parks, Recy Taylor did not shut up. She did what so many women still don’t for fear of retribution. Nevertheless, she persisted. The Rape of Recy Taylor is powerful in its narrative and triumphant in its storytelling. In a world that tries its hardest to keep women down, particularly women of color, we should revere someone like Recy Taylor and commit to educating the masses because Recy Taylor persists.
The film had its World Premiere at Venice (only American Documentary in its category) and will make its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 1st.
The numbers of women raped in Jim Crow South were staggering. In danger of their lives, they did not report the crimes and their stories went hidden. Not Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old mother who was gang raped by 6 white boys in 1944 Alabama. Unbroken, she spoke up, and with the help of Rosa Parks and legions of women spreading the word, they worked to get Recy Taylor justice.
Nancy Burski is the director of THE LOVING STORY and BY SIDNEY LUMET.