Emmett Till False Accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham, Dead at 88

Carolyn Bryant Donham, whose false accusations led to the brutal murder of Emmett Till, has passed away. Donham, a White woman, had falsely accused the Black teen of making sexual advances toward her, which ultimately resulted in his horrific lynching.

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Emmet Till’s False Accuser Dead At 88

Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman whose accusation led to the lynching of 14-year-old Till, has passed away. According to CNN, she passed away at the age of 88 while in hospice care in Westlake, Louisiana.

The cause of death was determined to be cancer, per The Guardian. Malik Shabazz, with Black Lawyers for Justice, stated that Donham’s legacy “will be one of dishonesty and injustice.”

The Horrifying History Of Emmett Till

In August 1955, Donham was one of many individuals responsible for the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Donham was a 21-year-old shopkeeper in Money, Miss., who accused the teen of whistling at her, including propositioning and lewdly grabbing her at her family’s grocery store on Aug. 24, 1955. 

At the time, Till was in the area visiting family from Chicago. 

Several days later, Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, abducted Till from his great-uncle’s home, where he was staying during his visit to Mississippi. The two men savagely beat the 14-year-old, gouged out one of his eyes, and shot him in the head before disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River. 

Till’s mutilated body was discovered three days later, and the murder and subsequent trial became a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. Bryant and Milam were later acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury.

Was Donham Ever Held Accountable?

In 2017, the case was reopened; however, it was closed after Donham stated that she lied during the initial trial. 

She stated, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.” This was taken from an interview in the book titled, The Blood Of Emmett Till.

Many of Till’s living relatives and activists advocated for justice due to Donham’s false accusations. The Till family had hoped for a kidnapping prosecution against Donham, who played a significant role in the late teen’s murder.

However, a grand jury in Leflore County, Mississippi, decided not to indict Donham due to lack of evidence on the charges of manslaughter and kidnapping.