Black ExperienceBlack HistoryNational

Emmett Till’s Accuser Admits Fabricating Testimony

More than six decades after the horrifying and racially-motivated death of black teen Emmett Till, a white woman who accused him of verbally and physically accosting her in Mississippi in 1955 — inflaming tensions that helped spark the civil rights movement — has admitted in a new book that she lied, the New York Post reported.

Till, who was 14 at the time of his brutal death, had allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old white woman, while at a country store in Money, Mississippi.

Bryant’s husband and a second white man later tracked young Emmett down and shot and bludgeoned him to death — and astonishingly were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury after an hour’s deliberation.

Carolyn Bryant
Carolyn Bryant (Chicago Defender via PBS)

During the trial, Bryant testified that Till had also made physical and verbal advances toward her, a sensational claim that worsened tensions over the case.

But according to a 2007 interview newly revealed in the book “The Blood of Emmett Till,” Bryant admits that never happened.

“That part’s not true,” she told writer Timothy Tyson, according to Vanity Fair, though she claimed she could not recall what happened the rest of the evening at her husband’s country store, where Till stopped on Aug. 24, 1955, to buy 2 cents worth of gum.

The Chicago teen, who had been visiting relatives in the segregated cotton country of the Deep South, was kidnapped, beaten and shot four days later.

He had a bullet hole in the head, barbed wire around his neck, an eye gouged out and other ghastly wounds. His body was dumped in the muddy Tallahatchie River.

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” she is quoted as saying.

Bryant, 82, is now known as Carolyn Bryant Donham. Her court testimony was out of the earshot of the jury, but helped to frame the case publicly.

She testified that Till had grabbed and threatened her inside the store, and that he had used an “unprintable” word when he told her he had been intimate “with white women before.”

“I was just scared to death,” she said in court.

The two killers later admitted their guilt after their acquittal.

Till’s murder became the flashpoint in the American civil rights movement. His mother insisted on an open-casket funeral, leading to photographs of his battered corpse being spread across the country, which helped focus public attention on what was happening in the heart of the country.

In 2004, the FBI reopened the case to see if any accomplices could be hauled into court, but a grand jury decided three years later that there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges.

Bryant went into hiding after the trial — divorcing and marrying twice more — and remained mum on the case until she gave the interview with Tyson, the New York Post reported.

Bryant told Tyson she “felt tender sorrow” for Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003, but he doesn’t mention if she expressed guilt or apologized.

Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks has said she thought about the teen when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, a few months after his death.

The shocking crime was memorialized in Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s play “Dreaming Emmett,” a Langston Hughes poem and a song by Bob Dylan.

The whereabouts of the now-82-year-old Donham are unknown.

“That case went a long way toward ruining her life,” Tyson told Vanity Fair.

Tags
Show More

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker