Nancy Buirski (director)
25 May 2018 (released)
26 May 2018
The blunt, almost brutal title is to the point but belies the tight deftness of this documentary and the manner that it looks into the case, those involved and beyond.
Recy Taylor was a 24-year-old black mother who while walking home one night from church was accosted and gang raped by six white men in Alabama in 1944. She spoke up at the time, identifying her attackers. They were local boys well known to the community, a community that closed in and did nothing. It was only in 2011 that the state of Alabama formally offered an apology.
That’s the bare bones of the case and the film but there is so much more here. Nancy Buirski through interviews with surviving relatives of both Recy Taylor and the attackers broadens the subject and delves further into the society of the time. A white society that was only a generation or so removed from times of the plantation but still stuck with that mentality. A mentality of white, male superiority that could do as it pleased, looked inwards and protected itself.
But this was also a time of vigorous activism and Buirski expands to explore the involvement of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the use of the black press, campaign tactics and film in the case.
The editing and composition lend the film an ethereal quality and it’s at times troubling to watch as Recy Taylor’s relatives recount the attack and the aftermath. Recy Taylor herself passed away last year at the age of 97