George Taylor was born in 1905 in Washington County, a rural county in southwest Alabama that was home to many plantations. He was one of seven children of Ike and Allien Taylor. There is no record of Mr. Taylor’s occupation or why he was in Birmingham, but the industrial city provided jobs for many from the rural South over the years. When he was 29 years old, on the night of August 23, 1934, George Taylor was shot to death following an incident in Birmingham’s Stockham Park.
The events told were in statements made on behalf of the three women involved in the incident. Mr. Taylor never had a chance to tell his side of the story. Grace Tabor, 23, Lorena Tidwell, 19, and Edith Tidwell, 24, said they were threatened in Stockham Park. The women attracted the attention of a group of white men and led them to Mr. Taylor. Several men, armed with revolvers, chased Mr. Taylor into an alley and fired a volley of 15 or 20 shots, striking him in the head. According to the account, he ran several more feet and fell. While he was suffering his gunshot wounds, the three women crowded around Mr. Taylor and identified the victim as the man who approached them. Mr. Taylor was taken to Hillman Hospital, now part of UAB Hospital, and died shortly after being admitted.
Whatever the truth of the incident, this was a time period when African-American males could be lynched and murdered in very heartless ways just for looking at white women. According to the police report, Mr. Taylor fired shots at the posse of white men, but it was not reported that a revolver belonging to the victim was ever recovered.
Mr. Taylor’s murder shows how there was little regard for an African American’s death, especially if a white man murdered him. The deep racial hostility that permeated Southern society during this time period often served to focus suspicion and blame on African-American communities for crimes, whether or not evidence supported that suspicion. Many white murderers of African Americans killed in hate crimes were never convicted of any offense. In this society, white lives held heightened value, while the lives of black people held little or none.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Ingalls, Robert P. “Antiradical Violence in Birmingham During the 1930s.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 47, no. 4, Nov. 1981, pp. 521–524.
“Negro Is Killed after Attempt to Abduct Girls,” Tuskegee Archives, August 23, 1934.
Wigfield, William. “Fourteenth Census of the United States.” Department of Commerce-Bureau of the Census, 1920.