The Story Of Carolyn Bryant, The White Woman Whose Lie Caused The Murder Of Emmett Till
In 1955, Carolyn Bryant Donham claimed Emmett Till sexually harassed her, which led to the 14-year-old’s horrific lynching. More than 60 years later, she admitted to lying about the incident.
On Aug. 28, 1955, a black 14-year-old named Emmett Till was kidnapped from his relative’s home in Mississippi by two adult white men, who brutally beat him to death. His disfigured body was found in the Tallahatchie River three days later.
Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with Till’s murder. Following the highly publicized case, it was later revealed that they had killed the young boy after Bryant’s wife, Carolyn Bryant, accused Till of physically grabbing her and making lewd comments.
Till’s murder devastated the African American community, sparking a mass outcry from civil rights activists. Then, 62 years after Till’s murder, a researcher who interviewed Bryant wrote that she had confessed to lying about Till. But did she really admit to what many had long suspected?
Before she claimed notoriety for accusing Emmett Till of sexual harassment, Carolyn Bryant Donham was born in 1934, the daughter of a plantation manager and a nurse in Indianola, Mississippi.
A high school dropout, Bryant used her good looks to compete in beauty contests, winning at least two.
Later, she met Roy Bryant, an ex-soldier who she married and had two sons with. Together they owned a store named Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market in Money, a small town in the middle of the Mississippi Delta.
Not much is known about her life before Till’s infamous murder, but what is known paints the story of a white woman who grew up in an environment where blunt and violent displays of racism were ordinary.
Indianola, where Bryant was from, was the base of the Citizens’ Councils, which was a network of white supremacist organizations that opposed integration.
Money, where the couple’s store was opened, was in Mississippi, which had the highest number of lynching in America from 1882 to 1968.
“[She] thought the old system of white supremacy was wrong, though she had more or less taken it as normal at the time,” said Timothy Tyson, author of The Blood of Emmett Till. To this day, Tyson remains one of the only people to ever interview Carolyn Bryant.
On Aug. 28, 1955, Emmett Till, who was from Chicago and visiting family in Mississippi, was beaten to a pulp until his body was mutilated beyond recognition. Shortly thereafter, he succumbed to his injuries.
The perpetrators were Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam. They kidnapped the teenager from his great-uncle’s home and beat him to death after Carolyn Bryant accused him of sexually harassing her.
Till’s murder — only a year after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of desegregation in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case — sparked a mass outcry from civil rights organizations. The haunting image of the black teen’s body, photographed in Jet magazine after Till’s mother decided to hold an open casket ceremony for her son, fueled the civil rights movement.
It is still unclear what truly happened between Till, who was only 14 at the time, and Carolyn Bryant, then 21. One thing that is certain is the massive changes in Bryant’s account throughout the years.
Days after her husband and brother-in-law were charged with Till’s murder, Carolyn Bryant reportedly told her husband’s lawyer that Till insulted her but she did not mention any physical contact.
During the trial, Bryant testified — without the jury present — that Till followed her behind the counter, clasped her waist, and told her that he had been with white women before while using vulgar language.
“I was just scared to death,” she said on the stand at trial. There was also a version of her story that claimed Till had whistled at her, though that is unlikely because he was said to have a lisp.
There were also discrepancies in how her husband “found out” about Till’s alleged behavior. Initially, Bryant claimed she told her husband once he returned from a trip.
Later she told the FBI that her husband heard about it from someone who witnessed the exchange.
“I didn’t say anything, and one of the reasons I didn’t ever say anything more about it, was because I was afraid that, what I was worried about was he’s gonna go find and beat him up,” she told FBI agent Dale Killinger.
A month after being charged with Till’s murder, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white jury. The men later admitted to killing the teenager in a 1956 interview with Look magazine.
Carolyn Bryant, meanwhile, essentially went into hiding after her appearance in Till’s trial.
In 2017, Carolyn Bryant Donham was back in the headlines after author Timothy Tyson revealed that Bryant admitted to him in a 2008 interview that her 1955 accusation against Till was false.
In his book The Blood of Emmett Till, Tyson described Bryant’s recollection of the event as such:
“In her memoir she recounts the story she told at the trial using imagery from the classic Southern racist horror movie of the ‘Black Beast’ rapist. But about her testimony that Till had grabbed her around the waist and uttered obscenities, she now told me, ‘That part’s not true.’”
Bryant, who is now in her 80s and the only living key figure from the case, added that she couldn’t remember the details of what happened in the store more than 60 years ago. She said, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
Tyson wrote that Emmett Till’s accuser also admitted she felt “tender sorrow” for his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who devoted her life to the civil rights movement before her death in 2003.
After Carolyn Bryant’s recantation, the Department of Justice reopened Till’s murder case. Tyson turned in his materials to the FBI, including written notes and tape recordings of his interview with Bryant.
News of Bryant’s admission sparked renewed outrage. But her family denied she had confessed to lying about the incident with Till.
Tyson admitted that he had not caught the woman’s confession on tape — because he was in the midst of setting up the recorder — but he scrawled her statement on his notepad. Tyson shared a photo with the Clarion Ledger of his notes: “That pt wasn’t true…50 yrs ago. I just don’t remember…Nothing that boy ever did could justify what happened to him.”
Carolyn Bryant’s alleged confession highlights a horrific recurrence of white women weaponizing lies against black men that still persists today.
As recent as May 2020, a video of a white woman named Amy Cooper went viral when she feigned hysteria and claimed to police that she was being threatened by a black man named Christian Cooper. Fortunately, with a video recording, the man was able to document the disturbing lie.
But for each false claim caught on camera, countless others go unchallenged, like the accusation against Emmett Till, who suffered the ultimate consequence.
As for Till’s surviving loved ones, they were satisfied to hear that Bryant had finally confessed to lying.
By All That’s Interesting
Published January 27, 2017
Updated June 16, 2020
Slave owners used to put young black boys on the ground and use their bodies to keep their filthy feet warm and “clean.” They used to keep them at the bottom of their beds in the winter months so that their feet could keep warm. At times, the young black boys would play the role of a Podiatrist by removing ingrown toe nails from the slave master’s feet, chew overgrown toe nails off the slave master’s crusty toes, lick the nasty, oozing puss off the soars of the slave master’s feet, suck the slave master’s nasty toes, and anything else required to make the slave master’s feet feel better and to satisfy, his sick twisted white supremacist ego.
Those same young boys, they used to rape. They had parties that other slave masters were invited to attend. They would run the train (or gang rape the young boys). They played out their sick fetishes and fantasies on young black boys. They made the young boys have sex with one another as they watched. They would force an adult male slave, huge in physique, to rape the young boys. If the young boys wouldn’t comply, the adult male slave would be forced to beat the young male to the brink of death and sometimes to death. The shocking thing about this is that the adult male would oftentimes be a father or uncle to the young males!
Whenever white people say, “Well, slavery has existed everywhere,” in essence and totality they’re saying, “There is nothing wrong with slavery because there was slavery before the United States. And I’m an advocate of slavery.”
There may have been slavery before the United States BUT….
There is no history whatsoever of an extended, protracted period of slavery that continued for centuries wherein more than 100 million people were forced into. The methods of cruelty that whites practiced and inflicted upon blacks in the United States has NEVER been practiced prior to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Imagine, someone, forcing mothers to sleep with their sons or fathers to sleep with their daughters. Imagine the practice of interbreeding human beings like animals are interbreeded.
Imagine forcing a man to impregnate an entire plantation of slave women and in that practice, subconsciously teaching him that je doesn’t have to be responsible for any of the children in any form or manner whatsoever!
Imagine, someone being killed and you watch someone take the skin of the person who was killed and the killer makes luggage from the human skin; Shoes from the human skin. Imagine them keeping the penis as a trophy or collector’s item.
Imagine, someone tying ropes to the arms and legs of a pregnant woman and then attaching the ropes to four horses; The person then ordering the horses to run away in four different directions until the pregnant woman’s body is literally pulled apart. The unborn baby exposed without the liberty of a natural birth. The person then walks over to the baby and stumps it in the head until the life of the baby exists no more.
I could go on and on.
Black people, we must STOP HIDING THE TRUTH from our children. We must teach our children what happened. The Jews pass on the stories of their suffering (under the rule of Hitler) to their children. They NEVER allow them to live a life ignorant to the history of what they experienced. In fact, they never let the world forget what they experienced. NEVER.
We should NEVER allow our children to grow without knowing what happened to us.
Jesus said, ..”Ye SHALL know the TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE.”
Lets begin the road to SETTING OUR CHILDREN FREE BY TEACHING THEM THE TRUTH.
Judge allows DNA testing in case of Tennessee man on death row for 32 years.
(CNN)Evidence in the case of a Tennessee man who was sentenced to death three decades ago can be tested for the first time for DNA, a judge ruled this week.Pervis Payne, who has been on death row for 32 years, is scheduled for execution in December.He received two death sentences after he was convicted in 1988 of two counts of first-degree murder for the June 1987 stabbing deaths of 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter in the Memphis suburb of Millington. Payne also was convicted of assault with intent to commit first-degree murder of Christopher’s 3-year-old son, who survived.
DNA from old razor helped solve two cases of rape and murder from 40 years ago in California Payne, 53, maintains that he is innocent and went into Christopher’s apartment after hearing a cry for help, according to court documents. He said he pulled the murder weapon, a butcher knife, from her neck, the documents say.
A true daughter of the confederacy has written what should be the last words on the monuments:
By Caroline Randall Williams
June 26, 2020
I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.
If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.
Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. It fortifies and heartens me to witness the protests against this practice and the growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants to redress it. But there are still those — like President Trumpand the Senate majority leader,Mitch McConnell — who cannot understand the difference between rewriting and reframing the past. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective.
I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow.
According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help.
It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. No. Voluntary. Whiteness. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. White Southern men — my ancestors — took what they wanted from women they did not love, over whom they had extraordinary power, and then failed to claim their children.
What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?
You cannot dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand. You cannot say it wasn’t my family members who fought and died. My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. I don’t just come from the South. I come from Confederates. I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. My great-grandfather Will was raised with the knowledge that Edmund Pettus was his father. Pettus, the storied Confederate general, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the man for whom Selma’s Bloody Sunday Bridge is named. So I am not an outsider who makes these demands. I am a great-great-granddaughter.
And here I’m called to say that there is much about the South that is precious to me. I do my best teaching and writing here. There is, however, a peculiar model of Southern pride that must now, at long last, be reckoned with.
This is not an ignorant pride but a defiant one. It is a pride that says, “Our history is rich, our causes are justified, our ancestors lie beyond reproach.” It is a pining for greatness, if you will, a wish again for a certain kind of American memory. A monument-worthy memory.
But here’s the thing: Our ancestors don’t deserve your unconditional pride. Yes, I am proud of every one of my black ancestors who survived slavery. They earned that pride, by any decent person’s reckoning. But I am not proud of the white ancestors whom I know, by virtue of my very existence, to be bad actors.
Among the apologists for the Southern cause and for its monuments, there are those who dismiss the hardships of the past. They imagine a world of benevolent masters, and speak with misty eyes of gentility and honor and the land. They deny plantation rape, or explain it away, or question the degree of frequency with which it occurred.
To those people it is my privilege to say, I am proof. I am proof that whatever else the South might have been, or might believe itself to be, it was and is a space whose prosperity and sense of romance and nostalgia were built upon the grievous exploitation of black life.
The dream version of the Old South never existed. Any manufactured monument to that time in that place tells half a truth at best. The ideas and ideals it purports to honor are not real. To those who have embraced these delusions: Now is the time to re-examine your position.
Either you have been blind to a truth that my body’s story forces you to see, or you really do mean to honor the oppressors at the expense of the oppressed, and you must at last acknowledge your emotional investment in a legacy of hate.
Either way, I say the monuments of stone and metal, the monuments of cloth and wood, all the man-made monuments, must come down. I defy any sentimental Southerner to defend our ancestors to me. I am quite literally made of the reasons to strip them of their laurels.
Caroline Randall Williams(@caroranwill) is the author of “Lucy Negro, Redux” and “Soul Food Love,” and a writer in residence at Vanderbilt University.
They are hell bent on thinking they can prove election fraud, this is getting scary for the citizens of the United States.