WASHINGTON (AP) — Recy Taylor has a picture of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in the living room of her home in Florida. She never imagined she would visit the Obamas’ house in Washington.
Taylor is touring the nation’s capital a month after her home state of Alabama apologized to her for never bringing to justice the men who were accused of kidnapping and assaulting her in the 1940s.
She took her first trip to Washington to attend a forum at the National Press Club about late civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who championed Taylor’s cause as a field caseworker with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In 1944, Taylor, who is black, was a 24-year-old wife and mother living in Abbeville, Alabama. Seven white men kidnapped and sexually assaulted her and then left her on the side of the road. Two grand juries, both comprising only white men, refused to indict anyone.
The AP does not typically identify victims of sexual assault but is using Taylor’s name because she has publicly identified herself.
Last month, Alabama lawmakers offered Taylor, now 91, an apology for how her case was handled. Officials from her native Henry County and the mayor of Abbeville also apologized to her in March.
Taylor did not see the Obamas during her tour Thursday but called the White House “beautiful.” The Vermeil Room with portraits of past first ladies was one of her favorites.
The nation’s capital is a contrast to Taylor’s hometown, a small southeastern Alabama community.
“It’s a lot more to see than Abbeville,” she said, with a laugh. “Everything is different.”
Taylor traveled back to Abbeville last week where she said she received the state resolution of the apology on Mother’s Day at Rock Hill Holiness Church. Taylor was walking from the church after service when she was assaulted 67 years ago.
“I felt good,” Taylor said, about the recognition. “That was a good day to present it to me. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t know they was going to do it.”
Taylor said she keeps the resolution in a trunk with other sacred items at her home. “I try to keep it where I won’t never lose it,” she said.
Mary Owens, Taylor’s granddaughter, accompanied her on the trip. She called her a “hidden hero” and a “woman of integrity.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.