AUGUST 10th, 2022
Mississippi Grand Jury Declines to Indict Carolyn Bryant Donham
…and she gets away with all of it …again.
After hearing more than seven hours of testimony from investigators and witnesses, a Leflore County grand jury last week determined there was insufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter, Leflore County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said in a news release.
The Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr, Emmett Till’s cousin and the last living witness to Till’s August 28, 1955 abduction, said Tuesday’s announcement is “unfortunate, but predictable”.
“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,” Parker said in a statement.
“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.”
Ollie Gordon, another of Till’s cousins, told The Associated Press news agency that some justice had been served in the Till case, despite the grand jury’s decision.
“Justice is not always locking somebody up and throwing the keys away,” Gordon said. “Ms Donham has not gone to jail. But in many ways, I don’t think she’s had a pleasant life. I think each day she wakes up, she has to face the atrocities that have come because of her actions.”
Timothy Tyson, the North Carolina historian who interviewed Donham for his 2017 book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” said the newly rediscovered warrant did nothing to “appreciably change the concrete evidence against her”. But he said the renewed focus on the case should “compel Americans” to face the racial and economic disparities that still exist here.
“Ollie Gordon, another one of Till’s cousins, told The Associated Press that some justice had been served in the Till case, despite the grand jury’s decision.
“The Till case will not go away because the racism and ruthless indifference that created it remain with us,” Tyson wrote in an email Tuesday. “We see generations of Black children struggle against these obstacles, and many die due to systemic racism that is every bit as lethal as a rope or a revolver.”
For Gordon, the renewed attention on the Till case has been a reminder of the social progress it helped lead.
“It helps the younger generations identify how far we’ve come with the many liberties and civil rights that we’ve gained since Emmett’s death,” Gordon said. “As his mother would say, his death was not in vain.”
“He walked into a store and it changed civil rights. That crumbling store has come to symbolize the struggle to address the nation’s racial violence.”
“…Bryant’s own admission to …the events that led to Till’s death didn’t happen as she had previously attested.”
“Outside private correspondence with her attorney, trial testimony, and her unpublished memoir, Bryant remained tight-lipped about her interaction with Till. In 2008, in her only interview since that fateful season of death, Bryant admitted… that a crucial piece of her testimony in court was fabricated. Till never “grabbed her around the waist and uttered obscenities,” as she had avowed on the witness stand. “You tell these stories for so long that they seem true,” she confesses early in the book, “but that part is not true.”
And so we are left with a sobering certainty, one that even Bryant herself is forced to concede to Tyson, more than 50 years later: “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
THESE ARE THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES…
A mural featuring a portrait of civil rights icon Emmett Till looks out from an abandoned building front as volunteers gather nearby with family members of Tamiko Talbert-Fleming after passing out flyers in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood seeking information about her murder on January 19, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois.
A mural featuring a portrait of civil rights icon Emmett Till looks out from an abandoned building front as volunteers gather nearby with family members of Tamiko Talbert-Fleming after passing out flyers in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood seeking information about her murder on January 19, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)
The small town of Greenwood, Miss., will reveal a nine-foot statue of Emmett Till today while also having an extensive confederate monument, the Associated Press reports. This is more than fifty years after two white men kidnapped and lynched the Black teenager for whistling at a white woman.
Greenwood and Leflore County both have a population that’s 70% Black. Officials have worked for years to bring the Till statue to fruition. Democratic state Sen. David Jordan of Greenwood secured $150,000 in state funding. The community also commissioned Utah artist Matt Glenn to create the statue. Jordan hopes the statue will increase tourism in Greenwood and learn more about the area’s history.
“So much has been said about this case,” Jordan said this week. “Hopefully, it will bring all of us together.”
Till’s statue at Greenwood’s Rail Spike Park will be a short drive from an elaborate Confederate monument outside the Leflore County Courthouse. It will also be ten miles away from the remains of the store, Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market, where the whistling incident took place.
There is also a life-sized statue of Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett’s mother, planned in the Chicago suburb of Summit. An Oct. 28 groundbreaking is set for a plaza outside Argo Community High School, where she was an honor student. The statue is scheduled to be in place by late April.
Mississippi city of Greenwood unveils Emmett Till memorial statue
“I am elated that it happened here,” Mississippi state Sen. David Jordan said.
“Hosted by historian and ABC News contributor Leah Wright-Rigueur, the new series chronicles the life and legacy of Mamie Till-Mobley, whose fight for justice after her son’s brutal murder helped spark the civil rights movement. In 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley’s 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, was accused of offending a white woman in a Mississippi grocery store. Shortly after, a group of men kidnapped Emmett from a relative’s home and a local fisherman discovered his tortured body in the Tallahatchie River. Using Till-Mobley’s own words, as well as interviews from family members and other eyewitnesses, “Reclaimed” tells the story of a woman, mother and activist who made the courageous decision to let the world see the injustice and brutality her son faced.”
President Biden will establish a national monument honoring Emmett Till, the Black teen lynched in Mississippi. [July 2023]
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