Oprah Winfrey sent a group of Alabama residents into a frenzy on Tuesday when she made a surprise visit to the gravesite of Recy Taylor, the civil rights icon she spoke about in an emotional Golden Globes speech earlier month.
Winfrey, who was in Alabama for a “60 Minutes” assignment, said she ended up at the gravesite in Abbeville, Alabama, by chance.
“I don’t believe in coincidences, but if I did this would be a powerful one,” Winfrey said in an Instagram post. “I end up in the town of Abbeville where #RecyTaylor suffered injustice, endured and recently died.
“To be able to visit her grave so soon after ‘speaking her name,’ sharing her story, a woman I never knew. Feels like love,” she added in the post, which amassed more than 114,000 “likes” in about four hours.
The unexpected visit created a buzz in areas near Abbeville, which is about 100 miles southeast of Montgomery. One resident told local reporters that he noticed the media mogul’s black SUV as he was driving and made a U-turn in hopes of getting a glimpse of her.
“Yep, I made a U-turn,” Antonio Coleman, of nearby Dothan, Alabama, told a local newspaper the Dothan Eagle on Tuesday.
“I stuck my head out and looked,” he added. “I can imagine how I must have looked, but I saw her in the back talking on the phone.”
Taylor, a black woman who was brutally raped by six white men in 1944, spent much of her life fighting for justice, but the accused men were never prosecuted. She died on Dec. 28, 2017, at the age of 97.
Winfrey highlighted Taylor’s story while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes on Jan. 7.
“She lived as we all have lived too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” Winfrey said at the awards show, referring to Taylor. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.
“And I just hope — I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on,” she added.