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Seeking ‘peace on this earth’: Detailing the need for Alabama to offer a formal state apology

Mar 29, 2011

from Ben Greenberg's article in The Anniston Star:

Two local governments in southeast Alabama are expected to issue an apology for a 1944 rape of [Recy Taylor] a black woman by several white men, none of whom were ever prosecuted.

....Asked if the apology would also be on behalf of the state, Grimsley said, “We haven’t addressed that level yet.”

....“Clearly there should be an apology from the state here as well as the county,” said Professor Margaret Burnham, director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Program at Northeastern University School of Law. “Each failed to pursue the investigation aggressively and promptly, and more generally afforded utter impunity to white men who raped black women. Such a statement would not only honor Recy Taylor and her family for their courage and tenacity in seeking justice, but it would speak to scores of victims who similarly suffered in silence.”

....In October 1944, an all-white, all-male Henry County grand jury heard Taylor’s case. All seven alleged suspects were identified after one man who was picked up by the sheriff the night of the rape named them and confessed most of the details. But no evidence was gathered, and the grand jury returned no indictments.

....Despite further admissions from the suspects, signed affidavits from eyewitnesses and other evidence, a second all-white, all-male grand jury in February 1945 returned no indictments.

....Robert Corbitt [Recy Taylor's brother] has for some years been tracking the lives of the men alleged to have raped his sister. Today, six of the men are dead, according to Corbitt, and there is one who may still be alive.

But Corbitt and his sister Recy Taylor aren’t focused on those men now. They are focused, instead, on the apology. They want the truth officially acknowledged by the city and state that they say so completely failed Taylor.

....“I would like to see her have some peace before she leaves this earth,” Corbitt said. “What hurt her the most was their saying this never happened.”

Read the whole article.

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