#unsilencedarchives is a solo project to showcase histories that are often neglected. These posts seek to go beyond the confines of traditional academia by using social media as a platform to engage with a potentially wider audience and in a digestible way.
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CW: sexual assault. This is Recy Taylor. On the evening of September 3, 1944, twenty-four year old Taylor was held at gun point as she was kidnapped and brutally gang raped by six white men. Following incessant, non consensual penetration, Recy was blindfolded and abandoned on the Abbeville-Headland highway. The vile sexual assault inflicted upon Taylor was intrinsically linked to the denial of black womanhood and black humanity in the Jim Crow south. Rape was mechanized to uphold institutional white supremacy and pervaded the south, as young girls and women alike were violently and ritualistically denied their physical autonomy. Taylor did not lie quiet, and would go on to continue a cycle of protest that belonged to a long tradition of fighting for black womanhood. Recy Taylor fought for justice, in threat of physical violence daily, through the aid of Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon, Rufus A. Lewis, E.G. Jackson, and coalitions like the Alabama Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor throughout the country. She would never receive it. None of her six identified assailants were ever arrested for the brutality against her. Twice, all white grand juries refused to indict her assailants. Around the country, her rape was made an example of southern injustice that was “blind, deaf, and mute” and prompted a widespread activism that would assault the racist justice system. The networks and individuals that began the fight for Recy Taylor and black women’s bodies are key to the long Civil Rights Movement rights movement. As historian Danielle McGuire writes, “Although the struggle to secure justice for Recy Taylor did not succeed in the short-term, it was the largest and best organized of many efforts to draw attention to the ruthless heart of the racial caste system.” Recy Taylor passed away on December 28, 2017. In spite of the miscarriage of justice, Taylor’s bravery to identify her assailants and testify against them was a direct attack against the systems leveled against her and demanded the recognition of her personhood. #unsilencedarchives If you read one book this quarantine, let it be “At The Dark End of The Street” By D. McGuire
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Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930. In 1955, she co-started the Stockton chapter of the Community Services Organization to end segregation, police brutality, and discrimination. Huerta, nicknamed La Pasionaria, was an activist and labor leader that co-founded the United Farm Workers movement and created the Agricultural Workers Association. In spite of lacking social power due to her gender, class, and race; Huerta was instrumental in breaking barriers. In 1965, the UFW and AWA combined to create the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, which would sign a historic agreement that improved working conditions of farm workers in California. She would go on to coordinate a lettuce boycott and aid the passage of the 1975 Labor Relations Act. Huerta has continued her fight for justice throughout her life and now resides in Bakersfield at the age of 90. Sí Se Puede! #unsilencedarchives
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March is Women’s History Month & today was Super Tuesday. Lucy Stone was a suffragist and abolitionist from Massachusetts. She was at the top of her co-ed class at Oberlin College and upon graduation was valedictorian, however, the school deemed her too radical, and only allowed her to write a speech to be delivered by a man instead. Stone refused and succeeded in becoming the first woman of her state to receive a college degree. Lucy returned home, where she became an abolitionist speaker and organizer for both the anti-slavery movement and the movement for women’s rights. Stone was a skilled lobbyist, and traveled across North America to advance the rights of women, organizing the first National Women’s Rights Convention in 1850. During these travels, she laid the groundwork for a post war movement that was organized, integrated, and well established. Upon her marriage to Henry Blackwell, she retained her maiden name. She is the first of her time, and exceptional under a system of coverture. Women who followed the example she set are referred to as “Lucy Stoners.” Lucy Stone broke with other suffragists when she supported the achievement of the right to vote for black men prior to the vote being achieved for women. Stone agreed with Frederick Douglass that the vote was of the essential nature for the black man, in a way that was vital to protecting newly freed men from violence. Stone and Douglass both fought for the vote for women, however, Stone elected to push the vote for black men first, and continue her work for female suffrage at the same time. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony disagreed, and a split in the suffrage movement occurred. While Stanton and Anthony founded the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, Stone formed the American Woman Suffrage Association. Later in life, the women eventually reconnected, and reunified the two suffrage associations, but had spent much of their lives in silence due to ideological differences. Stanton died in 1893 at the age of seventy-five. #unsilencedarchives