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Danielle L. McGuire @dmcguire13
, 18 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
Friends, sister survivors and #twitterstorians: If you've read or know about the history in "At the Dark End of the Street" please help me out: In 1959 Betty Jean Owens was kidnapped and brutally raped by four white men in Tallahassee, Florida. She testified in a Jim Crow court..
in front of an all-white, all-male jury. She was a student at #FAMU & her fellow students rallied to her defense & demanded justice. It was a major campus movement BEFORE sit-ins. She spoke out decades before women took back the night or said #MeToo Defense attys accused her of..
being a stereotypical jezebel & claimed the assailants were just having fun. She was bound & gagged & assaulted for hours. She resisted, but they were armed. Her testimony secured life sentences for her assailants. It was the first time white men got life for raping a black woman
That made it a historic first and a watershed moment for women's rights and civil rights. She is a heroine of both movements and a warrior for justice. Betty Jean Owens is still alive. Her grandson, @AmonteMartin asked me if I'd help gather letters to her...
from all of us who see her bold testimony about racialized sexual violence as an act of inspiration, resistance, power and courage. We're asking for letters to Betty thanking her for her courage, for speaking out, and for laying a foundation for the #MeToo movement. Can you help?
If you assign At the Dark End of the Street; you've read about her case (bit.ly/2Rob5tW); or #RecyTaylor inspired you to learn more, please send a note of gratitude, love or well-wishes to letters2betty@gmail.com. We will present them to her for her birthday in Feb.
Writing letters2betty@gmail.com would make a great assignment for your students, or is just a small act of kindness and gratitude in these days of hate and rage. The past is very much alive; especially in those who suffered from racist and sexist violence. The combo of #Metoo...
and the ongoing racist assaults on black people make it even more difficult for women like Betty Jean Owens to find peace and a sense of justice. She bore an enormous burden in 1959 and carries it with her to this day. She has not spoken out publicly since then. Letters will be..
kept confidential and not publicized. @AmonteMartin & I will put them into a book for her. Any help you can provide will be appreciated more than you can know!! Please write a #Letter2Betty today. THANK YOU! letter2betty@gmail.com
Here's a link (bit.ly/2Rob5tW) to a blog post about her case, where you can download an article about it from the Journal of American History. (Or download it here: bit.ly/2SytdTk).
I wrote my own letter to Betty Jean Owens in 1999. I was working on her case for my master's thesis at @UWMadison. It was the same year I was assaulted & her courage to testify in a segregated courtroom in 1959, against all odds, helped me find my own voice. She is an inspiration
Her story is part of a much larger history of Black women's longstanding tradition of testimony and protest against racial and sexual violence that stretches all the way back to slavery and continues today with @TaranaBurke (and others) and the #MeToo movement.
#FAMU students come in for special mention in this case, too. Their immediate mass mobilization--after hearing that their classmate was assaulted--forced the grand jury to issue an indictment. Patricia Stephens Due, mother of @TananariveDue & a fierce freedom fighter said that...
the case reverberated across campus "We all felt violated, male and female," Due said. "It was like all of us had been raped." Look at the photo from the front page of the @TFamuan and you can see the resolve in the students' faces. They were not going to allow those white men to
get away with it. In fact, it was @FAMU_1887 students who would go on to lead the "jail no bail" tactic of the civil rights movement (made famous by the Sit-Ins and Freedom Riders). This is an opportunity to recognize an unsung civil rights heroine! Write a letter2betty@gmail.com
Dr. Martin Luther King praised the @FAMU_1887 students for "giving hope to all of us who struggle for human dignity and equal justice." And he argued that perhaps it was time to call on the Human Rights Comm. of the UN for help since U.S. justice was so often denied.
Thank you for your willingness to read this thread and to take a minute to craft a letter to one of the most important & most unsung heroines of the civil rights and women's movements, Betty Jean Owens. letter2betty@gmail.com. xoxoxo
If you assign At the Dark End of the Street; you've read about her case (bit.ly/2D8fhel ); or #RecyTaylor inspired you to learn more, please send a note of gratitude, love or well-wishes to letters2betty@gmail.com. We will present them to her for her birthday in Feb.
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