At the Dark End of the Street: Sexual Violence and the Civil Rights Movement
A lecture by Danielle McGuire
Location: Lewis Library, Room 120
Date/Time: 10/21/10 at 4:30 pm - 10/21/10 at 6:00 pm
In 1944, in Abbeville, Alabama, a black woman named Recy Taylor walked home from a church revival. A car full of white men kidnapped her off the street, drove her to the woods and gang raped her at gunpoint. When they finished, they dropped her off in the middle of town and told her they would kill her if she told anyone what happened. But that night, she told her husband, father and the local sheriff about the assault. A few days later the Montgomery NAACP called to say they were sending their best investigator.
It was Rosa Parks.
Rosa Parks carried Taylorâs story back to Montgomery where she and the cityâs most militant activists organized the Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor, and launched what the Chicago Defender called âthe strongest campaign for equal justice in a decade.â? Eleven years later this group of homegrown activists would become better known as the Montgomery Improvement Association, vaunting itâs president, Martin Luther King Jr. to international prominence and launching a movement that would help change the world. But when the coalition first took root, King was still in High School.
The 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, often heralded as the opening scene of the civil rights movement, was in many ways, one of the last acts of a decades-long struggle to protect black women, like Taylor, from sexualized violence and rape. Indeed, major civil rights campaigns in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina had roots in organized resistance to sexual violence.
At the Dark End of the Street uses the lens of sexual violence to reinterpret and ultimately rewrite the history of the civil rights movement.
This lecture is open to the public. Sponsored by the Center for African American Studies.
Danielle McGuire is the author of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and ResistanceâA New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (Knopf, 2010) She is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She received her PhD from Rutgers University in 2007. Her dissertation on sexual violence and the civil rights movement won the 2008 Lerner Scott Prize for best dissertation in womenâs history. It was also the runner up for the Allen Nevins Prize, offered annually by the Society of American Historians for best-written dissertation on an American subject. McGuire won the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award for her essay, âIt was Like We Were All Raped: Sexualized Violence, Community Mobilization and the African American Freedom Struggle,â? published in the Journal of American History in December 2004. The same essay won the A. Elizabeth Taylor Prize for best essay in southern womenâs history and was reprinted in the OAHâs Best Essays in American History 2006. McGuire has won numerous teaching and research awards and is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
Department: Center for African American Studies