At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – Danielle L. McGuire

Wow!  Every man should read this with shame; every woman with pride.  I can count on one hand the number of books that changed my viewpoint and altered my thinking on a subject I felt I knew extensively.

The Civil Rights Movement.

In response to the #metoo awareness, I wanted to find a read that was geared towards the topic of abuse, rape, degradation and the defilement of women.  I had previously read “Women who run with wolves,” so that’s where I started my search.  A great book, but I wanted something different.  And different I found (thanks Goodreads).

In Abbeville, Alabama, 1944, Recy Taylor, married; mother of a young girl, was walking home.  A car of 5 White men rolled up and aimed a shotgun at her, “If you tell, we’re going to kill you.” They dragged her to the woods and for hours repeatedly raped this young mother.  Finished, “If you tell, we’re going to kill you,” was their partying shot as they left her stranded.  Her husband had contacted the police, reporting his wife missing and for hours they searched.  Then suddenly Recy appeared, walking down the street, half naked and disheveled, before collapsing in her husband’s arms.  Upon awakening – 

she told.

And this book chronicles the history of White males’ sexual control over Black women and the battles these poor souls endured to achieve justice.  And more importantly, how these brave women’s courage to tell and seek justice, led to the success of the Civil Rights Movement.

Rosa Parks.  Think of an iceberg, the tip being what we know of this iconic woman.  Under the turbulent waters of Jim Crow she was an iconic figure that fought mainly for women’s rights and equality under the law.  Her taking a seat for justice was the culmination of years scratching and fighting to end these vicious acts perpetrated by White men all over the south.  She was relentless and obedient and a conscious voice that led to that momentous event.  She challenged the MLKs and other leaders to protect their women and expose the underlying current of rape that is prevalent in the South.  And she was chosen strategically to lead the boycott, a woman, a representative of a class that had been routinely, belittled, spat at, sexually assaulted and ridiculed on those buses.  And that was the root of its success.  All those women, seamstresses, cooks, babysitters, etc. that worked for ‘white folk’ had endured those advances and could relate to Rosa’s refusal to stand.  They were all Rosa Parks and they were all the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement.

A telling story, a must read for every American, especially in the misogynistic climate that is now being exhibited today.  But talk about bravery?  Each woman, not only chronicled in this book, who had found the strength ‘to tell’ should be commended for their bravery in the face of death.

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