Alabama House OKs Apology to Recy Taylor

At last, official acknowledgment that the 1944 case of a black woman gang-raped by white men was mishandled.

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Recy Taylor (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Finally! Ninety-one-year-old Recy Taylor, whose cause was championed at one time by Rosa Parks, will receive an apology by the state of Alabama for its mishandling of her 1944 rape case.

The Alabama House has reached back into history and apologized for how authorities mishandled the 1944 rape of a young black woman by a gang of white men as she walked home from church.

The House on Tuesday approved by an apparent unanimous voice vote a resolution that expresses “deepest sympathies and solemn regrets” to Recy Taylor, who is now 91 years old and lives in Florida.

She was 24 when she was confronted by seven men who forced her into their car at knife and gunpoint and drove her to a deserted grove of trees where six of the men raped her in Abbeville in southeastern Alabama. Two all-white, all-male grand juries refused to indict the suspects.

Her 74-year-old brother, Robert Corbitt, who still lives in Abbeville, said he was happy his sister was finally going to get what she wanted -- an apology.

The strongly worded resolution said the failure of Alabama law enforcement and the court system to prosecute the crimes "was, and is "morally abhorrent and repugnant."

The measure is also expected to pass the Alabama Senate. It follows personal (though not official) apologies by Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock and Henry County Probate Judge JoAnn Smith last week.

Last month, Taylor told The Root's Cynthia Gordy how much it hurt that the horror she went through was swept under the rug. In that same article, Taylor's brother, Robert Corbitt, demanded an official apology. After publication of the article, Change.org circulated an online petition demanding an official apology for Taylor, which nearly 17,000 people signed.

The people were heard by Alabama officials, and it appears that so, at last, will be Recy Taylor. Justice? No, only a court of law could deliver that. But at least she finally has an acknowledgment of the horrible injustice that was done. It's a start.

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