Professor Danielle L. McGuire, author of The Dark End of the Street, the book on which this article is based, states that Joan Little’s trial became a case against “the entire history of the South’s racial and sexual subjugation.” Most notably this became true when the defense attorney told the jury “God chose Joan Little… like he chose Rosa Parks” then asked whether they wanted to “continue to live in a world dominated by white supremacy”. It became clear then, to everyone involved, that the historic portrayal of African-American women as promiscuous ‘jezebels’ would not stand up in court as an excuse for assault. These women have a right to be heard and their commitment to speaking out against such violence aided the civil rights movement in ways that have not been fully appreciated thus far.
Certainly, many would agree that the struggle is still not over. Not only is the Black Lives Matter movement still ongoing and needed, the wave of sexual assault allegations levied at celebrities and politicians continues to question the rights women have over their own bodies. This article also provides the historical context for the recent rejection of Judge Roy Moore as Senator for Alabama. The state has a lengthy history with sexual assault cases, and those that remember it, do not look back on it kindly.