During the Jim Crow Era, widespread segregation came to limit bodily ownership for women of color, and placed restrictions on their individual freedoms by placing black women in a category below whites. African American women during the early and mid-twentieth centuries had to fight for the right to their own bodies due to the color of their skin, and were victim to legalized prejudice. However, these instances of discrimination were not taken lightly. Activists such as Rosa Parks sought to eliminate the legalized racism created by cases such as Plessy vs Ferguson, and sought justice for segregation, bodily protections, and equal protections under the law.
Race played a major role in women’s so called “freedom” in society, and in their protections…show more content… White women’s bodies were profoundly more protected by the legal system, and this was demonstrated through the prosecution of the men accused of assaulting them. In Ida B. Wels’s newspaper, Memphis Free Speech, she documented the lynching of “5 negroes” charged with “raping white women”, and their immediate assumed guilt because of the “old thread bear lie”, where black men were stereotyped as “black beast rapists”. Another instance of white protection was the trial of Henry Smith, who was “lynched for the alleged rape” of “Little Myrtle Vance” (Hale, Making Whiteness). Segregation worked to protect the bodies of white women over black women, and limited the amount of freedom women of color were able to obtain without access to equal…show more content… Throughout her career, one particular injustice that stuck with Parks was the case of Recy Taylor. Recy Taylor was an African American woman who was abducted, brutally raped, and abused by 9 white men. Despite car identification and eye witness accounts, the perpetrators were not arrested, and when taken to trial the grand jury did not indict any of the suspects. The trial seemed to “go through the motions” of a legitimate case without seeking justice for the victim. (McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street, 16). The obvious, bogus nature of this trial served to “remind black women that they could not rely upon even the most basic protections under the law”, which is further demonstrated in cases like Plessy v Ferguson and in the unequal prosecution of a white woman’s rapist vs a black woman’s. (McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street, 16) Following this injustice, “with support from national labor unions, African-American organizations, and women’s groups, Rosa Parks and her local allies formed the Alabama Committee for Equal Justice for Recy Taylor” (Mcguire, At the Dark End of the Street, 15). Segregation increased the difficulty for black women to gain justice for violations of their physical bodies, and gave “self-ownership” a