What Are The Recy Pins At The State Of The Union? It's A Subtle, Remarkable Protest
There are a myriad protests expected to accompany Trump's first State of the Union Address. Caucus on Black Women and Girls founder Bonnie Watson Coleman has her own approach. She ordered 200 red pins for the big night, and we can't help but ask," What are these recy pins?"
The pins are a tribute to Recy Taylor, a black woman who in 1944 was kidnapped and raped by six white men in Alabama. The men never were jailed and Taylor never received justice. Following her recent death on Dec. 28, 2017, many have spoken up about the racial injustices facing society today, especially in regards to black women. Oprah discussed Taylor's story in her 2018 Golden Globes speech.
On Jan. 10 Bonnie Watson Coleman emailed her colleagues at the C.B.C with the idea of sporting the red pins on their clothing for the upcoming State of Union Address. The red pins are adorned with the name "Recy" as a nod to Taylor. Since introducing the idea, Coleman and her team ordered 200 pins in order to increase the visibility of sexual assault on black women, a topic too often ignored by the public. While the pins are clearly a nod to Recy Taylor, there also a clear statement to the president: that Coleman and her fellow colleagues do not adhere to Trump's beliefs or presidency.
Though many plan to protest Trump's State of the Union address, Coleman plans to attend the event with Recy Taylor's niece and past caregiver Rose Gunter. In addition, Taylor's granddaughter Mary Joyce Owens will be attending the State of the Union as the guest of Alabama Representative Terri Sewell.
Doreen St. Felix, a reporter for The New Yorker, spoke to Coleman about the pins, her fight against the Trump administration, and her intention of introducing Taylor's story to the oblivious public.
Trump came into the office as a racist. He didn’t even know what the Black Caucus was. The Black Caucus and President Obama may not have always agreed about whether or not he was moving fast enough, but there was still dignity and respect for who you were. One experience with Obama had to do with the H.B.C.U.s and seeking more support for them. I really appreciated his recognition of young black men, young black boys. My Brother’s Keeper. I just didn’t think that there was enough emphasis on black girls...Oprah mentioned Recy Taylor. I’m going to tell you that I didn’t know about her until Oprah Winfrey mentioned her. But I think that speaks to the fact that our history, our suffering, isn’t captured in the same way that non-minorities have captured their history, their suffering, their experiences, their contributions. So I intend to read up more about her. Because can you imagine?
This woman was in her twenties when this happened to her. Six white men raped her, then cast her aside and threatened if she would tell anyone...There’s been no opposition to the pins. Two of the co-chairs of the D.W.W.G., Lois Frankel and Brenda Lawrence, asked if we are going to have enough pins for them. I would expect at least a number of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the men in the Black Caucus, to wear a Recy Taylor button. There are some people who may not attend, but I think it’s important that I do attend. And I think that my attending, and wearing black, is not only respecting the institution but it is also showing this President, as he delivers his State of the Union address, that we are protesting, we are standing in solidarity with women. I like how the red shows up against the black.”
Red is power and black is beautiful. Here's to hoping 2018 proves to be a space where all voices are heard and all people are treated equally.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to fix an incorrectly written year.