When Oprah Winfrey delivered her now famous speech at the Golden Globes earlier this month, she paid homage to Recy Taylor, an African-American woman who was abducted and raped in Alabama over 60 years ago, but whose perpetrators were never charged.
“Justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow,” Winfrey said. “She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men.”
As Winfrey noted in her speech, Taylor passed away at the end of last year. But at the State of the Union Tuesday night, members of Congress, including female representatives and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, honored her memory by sporting red pins at the State of the Union with “Recy” emblazoned on them.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman announced that members of Congress would wear the pins just days after Winfrey’s speech. Last week she announced she had invited Taylor’s niece, Rose Gunter, as her guest to the State of the Union. “Recy Taylor represents the voice of many marginalized women who have spoken up, spoken out and have long been ignored,” Watson Coleman said in her announcement on Twitter. “Beyond her terrifying experience, Recy Taylor is a representation of the many communities this Administration has chosen to leave behind.”
Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, who will also be sporting a red pin, told Cosmopolitan that the decision to wear one is helping her sit through the speech a President whose rhetoric she deems divisive and offensive to women and minorities.
“It’s going to be very difficult because I have no clue what this man will say as our president,” Lawrence said. “I’ve heard and witnessed so many sexist and racist comments. But I will be there to look him in the eye and will be there as a person elected by the democracy of this country, and I will continue to use my voice.”
Lawrence’s guest is historian Danielle McGuire, who wrote about Taylor in a 2010 book that researched sexual violence African-American women encountered during the fight for civil rights.
Lawrence is also one of the many of the Congresswomen—including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—wearing all black in honor of the #MeToo movement, following the lead of women in Hollywood during the Golden Globes, ”
“Dressing in black is a form of protest,” Lawrence told Cosmopolitan. “I’ll be there in protest, but no one can take my seat from me.”