A white woman from Mississippi who, in 1955, accused a black teenager named Emmett Till of committing a crime that ultimately led to his death has passed away.
With Carolyn Bryant Donham’s passing at the age of 88, a chapter on one of the most notorious lynchings in the annals of United States history has come to an end.
Up to a year before she passed away, prosecutors pursued the possibility of filing charges against her for the murder of 14-year-old Till.
In the previous year, they were unsuccessful in their efforts to persuade a grand jury that she should be tried for homicide and kidnapping.
The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute released a statement saying that they “wish mercy on her soul, even as we regret that she never took responsibility for her role” in Till’s murder. The statement was accompanied by the phrase “we regret that she never took responsibility for her role.”
“While the world saw the horrors of racism in Emmett’s murder, the real consequences of hatred, what the world will never see now is remorse or responsibility for his death.”
The Chicago teenager was in Mississippi visiting family when he walked into the store where Donham was working at the time. Donham was 21 years old at the time.
Donham stated that the man had harassed her and made inappropriate approaches toward her while she was in the store by herself.
Her husband and her sister’s husband abducted the boy at gunpoint, subjected him to torturous treatment, and then dumped his bruised body in a river.
Mamie Till Mobley, Till’s mother, requested that his casket be open at his funeral so that everyone might witness the horrific things that had been done to her son. The public was shocked when photographs of his brutally murdered remains were published.
Roy Bryant and JW Milam, the two men who were responsible for the kidnapping, were arrested for the murder, but an all-white jury promptly found them not guilty.
They eventually acknowledged the murders in an interview with a magazine, but they could not be retried because of laws in the United States. Both have since passed away.
The death of Donham was confirmed on Thursday by a coroner who worked in the Louisiana community of Westlake.
Reverend Wheeler Park Jr., a cousin of Emmett Till and the only surviving witness to his kidnapping said that “our hearts go out” to the victim’s family and added, “I recognize that any loss of life is tragic and don’t have any ill will or animosity towards her.”
“Even though no one will now be held accountable for the death of my cousin and best friend, it is up to all of us to be accountable for the challenges we still face in overcoming racial injustice.”
Donham took the stand and testified against her husband and his half-brother during the trial against them. She claimed that Till had grabbed her hand and made sexual advances towards her.
She renounced the assertion in an interview with a Yale historian in 2008 and was quoted as saying, “That part’s not true.”
The statement prompted the Department of Justice to reexamine her case, but when investigators explicitly asked her whether or not she had lied during the trial, she denied that she had done so.
who is Carolyn Bryant?
Carolyn Bryant, sometimes known as Carolyn Bryant Donham, was a vital figure in one of America’s most infamous episodes of racial violence. Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy, was accused of making advances toward her in a store in 1955, which led to his gruesome murder. Her bogus claims served as a spark for the Civil Rights Movement, bringing the issue of racial violence to the forefront of public consciousness.