WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman announced today that she will bring Rose Gunter, niece of Recy Taylor*, as her guest to the State of the Union address. Ms. Gunter was Taylor’s caregiver until she passed away last year at the age of 97.
“I am honored that Rose will be joining me for the State of the Union as many members of the Democratic Caucus will be paying tribute to her aunt. Ms. Taylor’s story represents that of many marginalized women who have spoken up, spoken out and have long been ignored. The transformative movement that’s happening in this country around sexual misconduct must include amplifying the voices of victims that we, in some cases, chose not to hear. Beyond her terrifying experience, Ms. Taylor, herself, is a representation of the many communities this Administration has chosen to leave behind.”
Watson Coleman is leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus and members of the Democratic Caucus in wearing red pins in memoriam of Recy Taylor. Taylor was abducted and raped while walking home from work in Alabama in 1944. Taylor reported her attack, but her assailants were never brought to justice. In 2011, the Alabama Legislature apologized to Taylor, calling the failure to prosecute her attackers “morally abhorrent and repugnant.” Taylor’s story rose to national news following Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award. This effort is in conjunction with members wearing black to the State of the Union address in solidarity with those seeking economic security and a cultural shift that enables men and women to work side by side in safety and dignity, free of sexual harassment, and paid fairly for the value of their work.
*Recy Taylor (née Corbitt; December 31, 1919 – December 28, 2017) was an African American woman from Abbeville in Henry County, Alabama, US. She was born and raised in a sharecropping family in the Jim Crow era Southern United States. Taylor's refusal to remain silent about a brutal rape she suffered, perpetrated by white men, led to organizing in the African-American community on behalf of justice and civil rights.
On September 3, 1944, Taylor was kidnapped while leaving church and gang-raped by six white men.[ Despite the men's confessions to authorities, two grand juries subsequently declined to indict the men; no charges were ever brought against her assailants