JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The white woman who accused Black teenager Emmett Till of whistling at her, causing his 1955 lynching in Mississippi, has died at 88.
Carolyn Bryant Donham died in hospice care Tuesday night in Westlake, Louisiana, according to a death report filed Thursday in the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office.
Her death marks the last chance for anyone to be held accountable for a kidnapping and brutal murder that shocked the world.
Patrick Weems, the executive director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center (ETIC), released a statement after Bryant’s death.
Mamie Till-Mobley, through her grief, wanted to “let the world see” what happened to her 14-year-old son Emmett Till. The woman whose lies in 1955 put the torture of Emmett in motion died today. She continued to uphold these lies and to protect the murderers until her death. While the world saw the horrors of racism, and the real consequences of hatred, what the world will never see is remorse or responsibility for Emmett’s death.
The Emmett Till Interpretive Center notes the death of Carolyn Bryant Donham. We will continue working to educate people around the world about what Emmett Till’s life and Mrs. Mobley’s work meant to racial healing and freedom. Since we will never see justice through the criminal justice system, we will continue working toward restorative justice for the memory of Emmett Till and for the people of the Mississippi Delta.Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center
In August 1955, Till had traveled from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi. Donham 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 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.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, run by some of Till’s relatives, posted a blank black square to social media sites Thursday after news of Donham’s death was reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.