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Carolyn Bryant Donham and Emmett Till

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The white woman who accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of catcalling her, which led to his brutal lynching, died at the age of 88. According to Mississippi Today, Carolyn Bryant Donham lost her longtime battle with cancer and passed in hospice care Thursday, which was confirmed by local officials.

Over the past few years, there’s been a renewed effort in getting justice for Emmett Till. In August of last year, a Mississippi grand jury declined charges against Donham for her accusation which led to the brutal murder of Emmett Till.

NewsOne first reported about Donham’s unpublished memoir, in which she paints herself as the victim years later.

The tragic murder of Emmett Till is one of America’s most horrific stories.

In August 1955, Emmett Till was visiting Mississippi from Chicago. During a trip to Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, Donham falsely accused Till of flirting with her and grabbing her. Witnesses said that he only whistled at her. The accusation prompted her then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam to abduct the teenager at gunpoint from his great-uncle’s home.

After torturing and lynching Till, the men tied a cotton-gin fan around his body and threw him into the Tallahatchie River where he was found several days later.

In Feb 2020, the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act was passed by the House, criminalizing lynching, thus making the act a hate crime under federal law.

In June 2022, filmmaker Keith Beauchamp and his colleagues found the unserved warrant for Donham in the basement of the historic Leflore County Courthouse in Greenwood, Mississippi. This newfound evidence renewed calls to hold Donham accountable for her role in Till’s death.

The movie Till, which was released last year, focused on the true story of Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and her dedication to receiving justice for her son. After Emmett’s murder, Mamie Till-Mobley insisted that her son have an open casket so the world could see what had happened to her son.

Even though Donham will never actually be held accountable for the death of Emmett Till, his story will always be a precautionary tale for young Black men in America.

This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.


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