Carolyn Bryant Donham has finally spoken to someone about her involvement in the gruesome murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till over 60 years ago. Donham had declared that Emmett groped and made advances toward her — giving ample reason in the minds of Mississippi racists — to brutalize and torture the boy to death. While the crime is officially “unsolved,” it is unofficially about as solved as a case can be.
— Complex (@Complex) January 27, 2017
It is widely understood that after Donham’s accusations, husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, seized Emmett and tortured him to death. Sure, they were acquitted by a “jury of their peers” (read: all-white, all-male, during Jim Crow-era America), but they later admitted to the crime in a Look magazine interview once they found themselves protected by Double Jeopardy, which says you cannot be retried for the same crime once you are acquitted.
Not only did the male Bryant and Milam admit to the crime, but they also earned $4,000 for their story and died as old men without ever paying for their crimes.
(Thanks, President Eisenhower.)
Now with a new book entitled The Blood of Emmett Till hitting bookshelves, Timothy B. Tyson, author and Duke University professor, is claiming that the woman, who started it all and allowed justice to go blind, has fessed up to the fact that everything used to justify killing Till was utter bullshit.
In comments to the New York Times, responding to Donham’s admission, 77-year-old Wheeler Parker, Till’s cousin, said, “I was hoping that one day she would admit it, so it matters to me that she did, and it gives me some satisfaction. It’s important to people understanding how the word of a white person against a black person was law, and a lot of black people lost their lives because of it. It really speaks to history, it shows what black people went through in those days.”
Whether this means charges will or can still be brought against Donham remains to be seen. Witnesses did place her as being in the truck with Till’s kidnappers at the time of his abduction. She was also said to be the woman, who confirmed his identity, after which Till was dragged to Milam’s farm. Bryant and Milam were said to have tortured Till for days and brought others — including black workers — in on the madness.
The case is still in the crosshairs of the Justice Department, though it is unlikely to resort in any new trials and convictions. Still, it is worth remembering Donham since she is still alive and inarguably responsible for one of the most hideous crimes in American history.
No exaggeration. If you haven’t seen what they did to Till’s body and have the stomach for it, click here; but word of warning … it’s very graphic.
(Featured Image: Till Family, Donham Personal)