A day that would change Betty Jean Owens life forever. That night four white men made a pact that they were going to find a colored women and rape her. They armed themselves with shotguns ad switchblades and walked up to a parked car alongside a very quiet park. At 1:00 AM now on May 3rd one of the men named Patrick Scarborough pressed a shotgun on window of the parked car. He ordered four African-American students from Florida A&M university to get out of the car. The students were dressed in tuxedos as they just got done with a night full of dancing and partying. Scarborough ordered the two black men to kneel in front of the car and eventually let them drive away very slowly leaving the two women with the attackers. Betty Jean Owens started crying and David Beagles on of the attackers slapped her and told her to stop crying. Edna Richardson one of the Colored students broke away from the attackers and ran into the park all by herself leaving Jean Owens all by herself with the attackers. They raped her and beat her over and over again.
This caused a ton of uproar in the civil rights movement at this time and resulted in a lot of public protest in the African American community. These protest just wasn’t in the hometown of Jean Owens these protest were heard all over the place national and even went to the international limits. Jean Owens spoke to out against her rapist in protest and that really sparked the protest and testimony. The main argument of the trial that the rapist were making was that the acts they did against Owens was consensual.
The trial Owens testified on her own behalf saying that if she didn’t do what they were telling her to do they would have killed her. This took a lot of courage from her to do this to look her attackers in the eyes and a whole white jury and tell them the true story of what took place on that very dark day. An all white jury is normal for back then you would have thought her odds of winning the case with her being a colored woman were not very high.
The verdict has came and Betty Jean Owens rapists were sentenced to life in prison but were not given the electric chair. They should have been given the electric chair no doubt about it I think the white jury and just the way these verdicts were going back then with white men that got them away from the electric chair the jury that is. Even with no electric chair this still changed the way that we look at victims of rape that may be different color with a life sentence. This hugely impacted a the civil rights movement and this was a huge win for African American Women.
McGuire, Danielle L. (2005). “Sexual Violence and the Long Civil Rights Movement.” ‘It Was Like All of Us Had Been Raped:’ Sexual Violence, Community Mobilization, and the African American Freedom Struggle. The Organization of American Historians.