UNITED STATES NEWS

Carolyn Bryant Donham, at center of Emmett Till death, dies

Apr 27, 2023, 9:33 AM | Updated: 10:19 am

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The white woman who accused Black teenager Emmett Till of making improper advances before he was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 has died in hospice care in Louisiana, a coroner’s report shows. Carolyn Bryant Donham was 88.

Donham died Tuesday night in Westlake, Louisiana, according to a death report filed Thursday in Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office in Louisiana.

Till’s kidnapping and killing became a catalyst for the civil rights movement when his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral in their hometown of Chicago after his brutalized body was pulled from a river in Mississippi. Jet magazine published photos.

Till traveled from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi in August 1955. Donham — then 21 and named Carolyn Bryant — accused him of making improper advances on her at a grocery store where she was working in the small community of Money. The Rev. Wheeler Parker, a cousin of Till who was there, has said 14-year-old Till whistled at the woman, an act that flew in the face of Mississippi’s racist social codes of the era.

Evidence indicates a woman identified Till to Donham’s then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, who killed the teenager. An all-white jury acquitted the two white men in the killing, but the men later confessed in an interview with Look magazine.

In an unpublished memoir obtained by The Associated Press in 2022, Donham said she was unaware of what would happen to Till.

The contents of the 99-page manuscript, titled “I am More Than A Wolf Whistle,” were first reported by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. Historian and author Timothy Tyson of Durham, North Carolina, who said he obtained a copy from Donham while interviewing her in 2008, provided a copy to the AP.

Tyson had placed the manuscript in an archive at the University of North Carolina with the agreement that it not be made public for decades, though he said he gave it to the FBI during an investigation the agency concluded in 2021. He said he decided to make it public after people doing research at the Leflore County, Mississippi, courthouse in June 2022 found an arrest warrant on kidnapping charges that was issued for “Mrs. Roy Bryant” in 1955 but never served.

Tyson said in a statement Thursday that Donham’s precise role in the killing of Till remains murky, but it’s clear she was involved.

“It has comforted America to see this as merely a story of monsters, her among them,” Tyson said. “What this narrative keeps us from seeing is the monstrous social order that cared nothing for the life of Emmett Till nor thousands more like him. Neither the federal government nor the government of Mississippi did anything to prevent or punish this murder. Condemning what Donham did is easier than confronting what America was — and is.”

Weeks after the unserved arrest warrant was found, the office of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said there was declined to indict Donham.

Till’s cousin, Priscilla Sterling, filed a federal lawsuit against the current Leflore County Sheriff, Ricky Banks, on Feb. 7, seeking to compel him to serve the 1955 warrant on Donham. In a response April 13, Banks’ attorney said there was no point serving the warrant on Donham because the grand jury did not indict her last year.

___

Associated Press writer Allen G. Breed in Wake Forest, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

Woman, 18, dies after being shot at Delaware State University; campus closed

DOVER, Del. (AP) — An 18-year-old woman died after she was shot on the campus of Delaware State University on Sunday, authorities said. Dover police said officers responded at about 1:40 a.m. to a report of shots on the campus. Police said an 18-year-old Wilmington woman who was not a registered student was found with […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

North Carolina medical marijuana sales begin at Cherokee store

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — Medical marijuana can now be legally purchased in North Carolina with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opening its long-planned dispensary this weekend on tribal land. Hundreds of people, many with approved medical patient cards to purchase items, celebrated the historic opening of the Great Smoky Cannabis Co. on Saturday within […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Conductor Andrew Davis dies at 80, headed Lyric Opera of Chicago and orchestras on 3 continents

Andrew Davis, an acclaimed British conductor who was music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and orchestras on three continents, has died. He was 80. Davis died Saturday at Rusk Institute in Chicago from leukemia, his manager, Jonathan Brill of Opus 3 Artists, said Sunday. Davis had been managing the disease for between 1 […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Chicago police officer fatally shot overnight while heading home from work

CHICAGO (AP) — A 30-year-old Chicago police officer was shot and killed overnight on the city’s southwest side while heading home from work, police said Sunday. Superintendent Larry Snelling told reporters the officer was going home and still in uniform, but wearing something on top of the uniform to cover it as is customary for […]

5 hours ago

Palestinians inspect the destruction following an Israeli military raid in Nur Shams refugee camp, ...

Associated Press

Israeli strikes on southern Gaza city of Rafah kill 22, mostly children, as US advances aid package

Israeli strikes on Rafah killed 22 people, as the United States was on track to approve billions in additional military aid to Israel.

12 hours ago

Associated Press

15 people suffer minor injuries in tram accident at Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tram accident at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles injured 15 people Saturday night, authorities and the company said. Los Angeles County Fire Department units were dipatched to the theme park on Lankershim Boulevard shortly after 9 p.m., the department said in a social media post. The victims taken to […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Carolyn Bryant Donham, at center of Emmett Till death, dies