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Reliving a Nightmare: Betty Jean Owens had the courage to testify 52 years ago

The Tallahassee Democrat tells the story of the 1959 gang rape, by four white men, of Florida A&M student Betty Jean Owens.  At the Jim Crow trial, Betty Jean Owens testified against her rapists; one defense attorney referred to her as a “(N-word) wench” in front of the all-white, all-male jury. Nevertheless, the four men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison by an all-white jury. The life sentence was a first for the South and the trial was a civil rights watershed, helping to end the conspiracy of silence around white sexual violence against black women–a practice that was rooted in slavery.

Read the Story  


  • Maryan Awale Posted March 25, 2016 11:20 pm

    Hello Ms. Mcguire my name is Maryan I had message you two years ago, and I would like to know if it is true that the woman betty jean owens was impregnated by the the horrific gang rape she endured. I know this is pretty random but I am doing an essay based on your book at the dark end of the street that, I read and found very educational. I had read on a another website while i was doing research that she had been impregnant.

    • Danielle McGuire Posted May 9, 2017 1:14 pm

      Dear Maryan,
      I believe the Tallahassee Democrat did a story about her a few years ago and this is where that information can be found. I did not know about this when I wrote my book. Thank you for reading it and for writing!

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