Black and white photo of young Emmett Till and his accuser Carolyn Bryant

Once again, Carolyn Bryant Donham has escaped the scales of justice in the Emmett Till killing. 

A Mississippi grand jury has declined to indict the white woman whose accusations prompted the 1955 abduction and lynching of a 14-year-old Black teenager. 

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of testimony from investigators and witnesses, the discovery of an unserved arrest warrant, and statements made in her unpublished memoir, a Leflore County grand jury determined there was insufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter

Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr., Emmett Till’s cousin and the last living witness to Till’s Aug. 28, 1955, abduction, said Tuesday’s announcement is “unfortunate, but predictable.”

“The prosecutor tried his best, and we appreciate his efforts, but he alone cannot undo hundreds of years of anti-Black systems that guaranteed those who killed Emmett Till would go unpunished, to this day,” Parker said in a statement.

“The fact remains that the people who abducted, tortured, and murdered Emmett did so in plain sight, and our American justice system was and continues to be set up in such a way that they could not be brought to justice for their heinous crimes.”

Emmett’s cousin, Ollie Gordon, said despite the lack of an indictment, some justice has been served. 

He explained, “Justice is not always locking somebody up and throwing the keys away.”

“Ms. Donham has not gone to jail. But in many ways, I don’t think she’s had a pleasant life. I think each day she wakes up, she has to face the atrocities that have come because of her actions.”

Another cousin, Deborah Watts, who leads the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, made it very clear that the fight for justice for Emmett isn’t over. 

“She has still escaped any accountability in this case,” Watts said. “So the grand jury’s decision is disappointing, but we’re still going to be calling for justice for Emmett Till. It’s not over.”

In her unpublished memoir, Carolyn claimed when her then-husband Roy Bryant and brother-in-law J.W. Milam brought Emmett Till to her in the middle of the night, she tried to help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. 

Seven decades later, Leflore County is still protecting Carolyn Bryant Donham.

Source: Associated Press

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