Monday, January 28, 2013

Recy Taylor and the Ghosts of Alabama

Recy Taylor, the protagonist in the early pages of Danielle McGuire's book At the Dark End of the Street, was recently granted an apology by the State of Alabama. Here's a link to an article that gives you the details of the apology and provides some more information.

Thoughts about this? Is justice delayed justice denied? Does this make up for what happened to her all those years ago? Let me know what you think.


  1. I'm not sure if anything could "make up for" what happened to her. That being said, the text of the apology in its acknowledgement of the offense and expression of remorse and shame functions to restore a certain amount of dignity to Recy Taylor, assure her of the state's commitment to prevent such actions in future, and validate her as an innocent victim. Even more than that, however, the apology seems to serve as an affirmation that both blacks and whites in Alabama have shared values and that the definition of what is wrong does not hinge on skin color, an issue that unfortunately remains contentious. On a symbolic level, the apology opens the door to further dialogue about the injustice faced by African-Americans to this day.

  2. In a class entitled Religious Conflict and Reconciliation, we often discussed the benefit to delayed apologies. First off, an apology can help begin the process of forgiveness. To have someone or some organization admit to their fault and apologize allows for the victim to feel some type of closure to the event. It recognizes the injustice that occurred and attempts to rectify it. After the apology, the victim can begin to try and forgive her attacker(s). Without the attempt towards forgiveness you can’t start the necessary process of reconciliation.

    Reconciliation is an important process in any human rights violation. For example, the Holocaust was reconciled through the Nuremberg Trials and the Apartheid through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have yet to see an attempt of reconciliation in the United States. Therefore, it is refreshing to see the Alabama Legislature attempting to mend the pain and humiliation the state and country put Recy Taylor through. I believe it is a good start to a greatly delayed reconciliation process.

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  4. think it would be interesting to consider why the apology came so late. Recy Taylor was raped 67 years ago and the end of segregation was proclaimed 35 years ago. Was the state of Alabama too ashamed? Or does it imply that race relations issues in the South are still not solved? This is a good thing that Recy Taylor is still alive to hear an apology but what would have happened if she would not have been alive? Nothing?

    An apology is the minimum act the state of Alabama could offer. Nevertheless, I believe she deserves more. She should be offered some type of restitution. The apology was a way for the State of Alabama to clear their mind. Now they can move on. I am not sure Recy Taylor will be able to move on, ever, considering what happened to her. She did not get justice, she only got an acknowledgment of the injustice she experienced. Though, this is a start.

  5. At the age of 91, I'm prone to believe that this apology from the state of Alabama is not necessarily meaningless, but perhaps in Recy Taylor's mind, too little, too late. The amount of time it has taken for anyone to demonstrate any type of sorrow and regret towards Taylor (and many other victims like her) is insulting. I think this apology can be taken symbolically, and broadened to incorporate the general lack of acknowledgement the American South (and North) has given to those who suffered from the brutal racial violence and ideologies, as well as previous legislature. At this point, so many who have suffered from the horrors of segregation and racism have died in a nation who has taken very little responsibility for their actions.

    That being said, I think that any type of apology, however late, cannot be a bad thing. Perhaps this will be a starting point for other legislature's to branch off of, a symbol of encouragement for America to acknowledge its harsh past, instead of trying to sweep it under the rug as though the past has not affected our present day race relations and ideologies. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that legislature and government, although important, will not automatically change the mindsets of Americans. However, it is a starting point and certainly better than silence.

  6. 67 years later? An apology? My question is what took so long for the state of Alabama to recognize the crime that had taken place against Ms. Taylor. Yes we can all recognize an apology was issued by the state of Alabama. However I wonder is there any underlying motive behind an apology being sent almost seven decades later? Are there other factors contributing to the apology being sent now other than to try to for what was done to Ms. Taylor and express "deepest sympathy and deepest regrets?" I won't say that there is another motive behind the apology. It may be an attempt to provide justice for Ms. Taylor but the thoughts of underlying motives are something that I take into consideration.

    Honestly, I do believe that the apology, despite its tardiness in nature, does provide the state of Alabama with the opportunity to recognize that crime did occur and that the state of Alabama was indeed in error for not properly prosecuting the suspects for what they had done to Ms. Taylor. However I am not too eager to jump to the conclusion that justice has been served or that one should applaud the state for the issued apology. This apology does not make up for the rape that was committed to Ms. Taylor. I believe that no matter how many apologies issued or resolutions made or reparations paid, nothing will be able to make up for the effects that this crime nor any other crime had on Ms. Taylor and the many others who suffered similar crimes.

  7. I believe the people that issued this apology were completely sincere in apologizing for this atrocity and the state's role in allowing it. I think that the notice given by the state of its wrong doing is important to mending the relationship. However, the amount of time it has taken to issue this extremely simple apology is unsettling. It never should have taken this long. I feel that although Ms. Taylor has been issued the apology, a part of this will never be resolved for her. It was an act that cannot be undone and she had been forced to live with it, without the comfort of knowing her assailants went free and sheltered. The state can only do so much in apologizing; there is no undoing what was done so long ago.

  8. I'm sure that NOTHING can make up for what happened to Recy Taylor back in 1944. However, I do not think that this means the apology is meaningless. First, the article specifically states that Recy "wanted an apology from the state of Alabama." Thus, regardless of whether or not WE see the point of such an overdue gesture, this is something that Recy herself desired.

    The majority of the comments above wonder why it took so long for Alabama to publicly admit their wrongdoing - this is obviously something that I questioned myself. I suppose that it is possible that they did not want to call public attention to such a personal and horrific event if Recy Taylor wanted to forget about that part of her past and put it behind her. I'm aware that this is a long shot, but it could explain their hesitancy to make such an easy and simple gesture.

    Basically, I think it's great that the state of Alabama is finally acknowledging its wrongdoing, but we cannot allow them to stop there. This apology could lead to bigger and better forms of restitution in the future, but it alone cannot make up for the horrors African-Americans experienced in that time period.