Carolyn Bryant, the white woman whose accusations prompted the 1955 abduction and lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, has died at 88.
She died in a Westlake, Louisiana hospice on Tuesday night, according to a death report filed Thursday in the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office.
Carolyn’s death marks the last opportunity for the Till family to hold anyone accountable for his kidnapping and murder.
In her unpublished memoir, Carolyn claimed when her then-husband Roy Bryant and brother-in-law J.W. Milam brought Emmett Till to her in the middle of the night, she tried to help him by denying it was him.
She claimed Emmett volunteered that he was the one they were looking for.
The 1955 arrest warrant for Carolyn was never served because the Leflore County sheriff told reporters he didn’t want to “bother” the woman because she was a mother of two young children
In August 2022, a Mississippi grand jury declined to indict Carolyn Bryant.
Even after hearing over seven hours of testimony from investigators and witnesses, the discovery of an unserved arrest warrant, and statements made in her unpublished memoir, a Leflore County grand jury determined there was insufficient evidence to indict Carolyn on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter.
Carolyn Bryant is currently trending on Twitter as some celebrate her death and others enter into spirited debates about who was really accountable for Emmett’s death.
Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., a cousin who counted Emmett Till as a childhood best friend, expressed sympathy for the Bryant family.
Our hearts go out to the family of Carolyn Bryant Donham.
As a person of faith for more than 60 years, I recognize that any loss of life is tragic, and don’t have any ill will or animosity toward her.
Even though no one now will be held to account for the death of my cousin and best friend, it is up to all of us to be accountable to the challenges we still face in overcoming racial injustice.
Marc Lamont Hill wrote:
When I hear about Carolyn Bryant’s death, I think about the profound unfairness of it all.
Her shameful lies and continual cowardice caused a young Black boy, Emmett Till, to lose his precious life through state-sponsored White supremacist terrorism.
Then she lived a full life.
See his original tweet below.
Read a few more Twitter reactions below.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Till family as they have fought so hard to get justice for Emmett.