The “Without Sanctuary” exhibit
“The 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who was murdered by two White men in Mississippi was buried in Burr Oak Cemetery on the same day his murderers were charged.”
“Some people with relatives are buried at Burr Oak — the resting place of many prominent African-Americans, including lynching victim Emmett Till “
“Why would they give control back to the people who created the mess? It doesn’t make sense,” said Gregory Mannie, who has several relatives buried at Burr Oak, including his father, grandfather, and grandmother. “The more I think about it, the more upset I get.”
The CONFESSION… finally.
Woman Linked to 1955 Emmett Till Murder Tells Historian
Her Claims Were False
THE NEW YORK TIMES
January 27, 2017For six decades, she has been the silent woman linked to one of the most notorious crimes in the nation’s history, the lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, keeping her thoughts and memories to herself as millions of strangers idealized or vilified her.
But all these years later, a historian says that the woman has broken her silence, and acknowledged that the most incendiary parts of the story she and others told about Emmett — claims that seem tame today but were more than enough to get a Black person killed in Jim Crow-era Mississippi — were false.
The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, spoke to Timothy B. Tyson, a Duke University professor — possibly the only interview she has given to a historian or journalist since shortly after the episode — who has written a book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” to be published next week.
In it, he wrote that she said of her long-ago allegations that Emmett grabbed her and was menacing and sexually crude toward her, “that part is not true.”
Woman at Center of Emmett Till Killing Claims She ‘Always Felt Like A Victim’
IN AN UNPUBLISHED MEMOIR, CAROLYN BRYANT REPEATED HER DENIAL OF WANTING THE 14-YEAR-OLD DEAD.
“The Woman RESPONSIBLE For EMMETT TILL’S MURDER Is Found ENJOYING Old Age In MISSISSIPPI!”
‘They just want history to die:’ Owners demand $4 million for crumbling Emmett Till store.’
The Murderers Didn’t Face Punishment, But Their Business Suffered.
“Roy Bryant admitted he murdered Emmett Till after a jury acquitted him. In the wake of Bryant’s trial, protestors across the country decried the lack of justice. But Bryant’s store, the site of the interaction that led to Till’s murder, quickly faced a backlash.
Bryant Grocery & Meat Market relied heavily on the Black community, which made up 90% of its customers, and when they boycotted, the grocery business had to close.”
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
On January 24, 1956, Look magazine publishes the confessions of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, two white men from Mississippi who were acquitted in the 1955 kidnapping and murder of Emmett Louis Till, an African American teenager from Chicago. In the Look article, titled “The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi,” the men detailed how they beat Till with a gun, shot him and threw his body in the Tallahatchie River with a heavy cotton-gin fan attached with barbed wire to his neck to weigh him down. The two killers were paid a reported $4,000 for their participation in the article.
In August 1955, 14-year-old Till, whose nickname was Bobo, traveled to Mississippi to visit relatives and stay at the home of his great-uncle, Moses Wright. On August 24, Till went into Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market in Money, Mississippi, to buy candy. At some point, he allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman who ran the store with her husband Roy, who was away at the time. (Bryant later admitted she made this up.) Till’s harmless actions carried weight in an era when prejudice and discrimination against Black people were persistent throughout the segregated South.
In the early hours of August 28, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, abducted Emmett Till from his great-uncle’s home. The men were soon arrested but maintained their innocence. On August 31, Till’s decomposed body was found in the Tallahatchie River. On September 3, Till’s mother held an open-casket funeral for her son, in order to bring attention to his murder. An estimated 50,000 mourners attended. Afterward, Jet magazine published graphic photos of Till’s corpse.
On September 19, the kidnapping and murder trial of Bryant and Milam began in Sumner, Mississippi. Five days later, on September 23, the all-White, all-male jury acquitted the two men of murder after deliberating for little over an hour. The jury claimed it would’ve reached its decision even more quickly—despite overwhelming evidence that the defendants were guilty—had it not taken a soda break. The acquittal caused international outrage and added fuel to the emerging American civil rights movement.
Milam and Bryant were never brought to justice and both later died of cancer. In 2004, the U.S. Justice Department reopened the case amid suggestions that other people—some of whom are still alive—might have participated in the crime. Till’s body was exhumed by the FBI in 2005 and an autopsy was performed. In 2007 a grand jury decided not to seek an indictment against additional individuals. In 2017, Tim Tyson, author of the book The Blood of Emmett Till, revealed that Carolyn Bryant recanted her testimony, admitting that Till had never touched, threatened or harassed her. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Bryant said.
Although the media really wanted to involve in this story, Milam and Bryant did not have to worry since Mississippi citizens did not support the outsiders, especially the Black or Northern people, interfering in their local cases. Many attendants even shook hands and wished Milam luck.
During the testimony, Moses Wright was the first person to witness. He pointed to Milam and claimed that was the guy on August 28th night with a gun and took Emmett Till away.
BLOW: Shed no tears for Carolyn Bryant Donham
By Charles Blow The New York Times Jul 21, 2022
Donham’s family denies that she recanted.
One question still lingers: Donham was involved in Till’s abduction. Till’s Uncle Moses testified at trial that when Bryant and Milam kidnapped the boy, they took him outside to their car, where a third person identified him in a voice that seemed to him “a lighter voice than a man’s.”
Late last month, an unserved arrest warrant for Donham “on a charge of kidnapping” was found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. Yet, in a statement Donham gave in 1955, she says that she “did not go to this Negro’s house,” but instead Bryant brought the boy to her to identify.
But, according to an account by author Douglas O. Linder, Donham was in the truck with Bryant and Milam earlier on the day of the kidnapping “looking for their target,” when they seized another Black man before throwing him out of the truck after Donham said he wasn’t the right one.
Then, when Bryant and Milam were acquitted at the trial, the killers kissed their wives, lit cigars and posed for pictures. Donham was one of the kissed wives. Where was the remorse? Where is it now?
Less than a year after the trial ended, in 1956, Bryant and Milam confessed to the gruesome murder in an interview in Look magazine. Still, Donham stayed married to the killer for about 20 years after Till was killed and never offered a public word about the matter.
In the memoir, she writes that when her husband brought the boy to her for identification, Till “flashed me a strange smile and said, ‘Yes, it was me,’ or something to that effect.” He didn’t act “scared in the least,” she wrote.
This, by the way, is the same reason Milam gave to Look for murdering the boy. Even though Bryant and Milam took turns pistol-whipping the boy in a tool shed in the early morning, Milam said: “We were never able to scare him. They had just filled him so full of that poison that he was hopeless.”
The legal system has declined for decades to charge Donham with a crime, and on Friday an aide to the Mississippi attorney general made clear that there are no plans to reopen the case against Donham now.
But, beyond the criminal measure, Donham has failed the moral measure. She has failed at every turn to offer a redeeming word or action for the boy’s murder and her part in it. The words we’ve seen in this memoir don’t cut it.
The only sympathy I have about this case is for Emmett Till and his family. For Donham I have only questions — and contempt.
30th Anniversary of Emmett Till’s Death NBC 1985