A Mississippi grand jury declined charges against the white woman whose accusation led to the brutal murder of Emmett Till. While the outcome is not surprising, the continued refusal of the legal system to hold Carolyn Bryant Donham responsible is nonetheless disheartening.
As reported by the Associated Press, a grand jury in Leflore County heard hours of testimony before declining to indict the 87-year-old Donham. W. Dewayne Richardson, district attorney for the Fourth District, including Leflore County, said the grand jury found there was insufficient evidence to charge Donham with kidnapping and manslaughter of Emmett Till.
Mere weeks before the 67th anniversary of his murder, justice still isn’t served for Emmett Till. Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr., Emmett Till’s cousin and friend, released a statement after the return of no verdict promising to keep Emmett’s memory alive.
The state of Mississippi assured me and my family that they would leave no stone unturned in the fight for justice for my cousin, Emmett. They kept their promise by bringing this latest piece of evidence before the grand jury.
This outcome is unfortunate but predictable, news. The prosecutor tried his best, and we appreciate his efforts, but he alone cannot undo hundreds of years of anti-Black systems that guaranteed those who killed Emmett Till would go unpunished to this day.
The fact remains that the people who abducted, tortured, and murdered Emmett did so in plain sight, and our American justice system was and continues to be set up in such a way that they could not be brought to justice for their heinous crimes.
No family should ever have to endure this pain for this long. Going forward, we must keep the details, and memory, of the brutal murder of Emmett Till, and the courage of Mamie Mobley, alive, so that we can reduce racial violence… improve our system of justice and treat each other with the dignity and respect with which Mrs. Mobley graced us all.
As previously reported, the Mississippi attorney general declined to pursue charges after an arrest warrant with Donham’s name was unearthed last month. NewsOne also covered the leak of Donham’s Memoir, in which she described her role in Emmett Till’s murder.
The daughter of a plantation manager, Donham tried to blame Emmett Till for the actions of her husband and his brother. She also attempted to cast herself as an innocent victim, even while admitting that 14-year-old Emmett was brought to her to identify after he was kidnapped.
“The Murder of Emmett Till” is currently streaming on the PBS website.
Deborah Watts, Emmett’s third cousin who leads the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, told the Associated Press that she will still demand justice for Emmett Till.
“She has still escaped any accountability in this case,” Watts told Associated Press. “So the grand jury’s decision is disappointing, but we’re still going to be calling for justice for Emmett Till. It’s not over.”