Recy Taylor was abducted and raped at gunpoint by seven white men in Abbeville, Ala., on Sept. 3, 1944. Her attack, one of uncounted numbers on black women throughout the Jim Crow era in the South, sparked a national movement for justice and an international outcry, but justice never came. Now, decades later, there may finally be some solace for Taylor, 91, as Alabama state Rep. Dexter Grimsley tries to make his state issue a formal apology.
But there were other victims, like Frank Morris, who were targeted for reasons that are less overtly political, and perhaps even more insidious. These are stories in which there seem to be an accumulation of hostilities towards a black male that reach an unpredictable breaking point. Three main things animate the hostilities towards this different class of victim, often occurring in combination: their financial success, their willingness to stand up to whites and allegations of their having liaisons, real or perceived, with white women.