Carolyn Bryant Donham lost her battle with cancer nearly 70 years after she accused Till — who was visiting family in Mississippi– of flirting or whistling at her in her family-owned grocery store, which broke an unwritten rule in the Jim Crow-era South.
Fourteen-year-old Till was abducted from his great-uncle’s home days later by Donham’s husband and brother. After taking him away, they beat him, shot him in the head, and ended the abuse by throwing his body in the Tallahatchie River.
The two men were found not guilty by an all-white jury months later, and the uproar began, which helped ignite the Civil Rights Movement.
While the brutal actions against Till were inexcusable no matter what, it was discovered that the accusations were false. Donham told Vanity Fair in 2017 that the parts about Till making verbal and physical advances toward her were “not true.”
Then, in June 2022, an unserved arrest warrant for Bryant Donham was unearthed in a courthouse basement by members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. Till’s family called for her arrest, but the district attorney didn’t reopen the case because there was no new evidence.
Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., one of Till’s cousins who witnessed the abduction, addressed the disappointing decision.
“They kept their promise by bringing this latest piece of evidence before the grand jury. This outcome is unfortunate, but predictable, news,” he said in the statement, according to CNN. “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.”
Now that Donham has passed away, she will never pay for the hurt she caused the Till family. See how Twitter’s reacting to the news of her death below.
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