Carolyn Bryant Donham has died at the age of 88, nearly 68 years after her accusation resulted in Emmett Till’s lynching.
Megan LeBoeuf, chief investigator for the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office, confirmed the news to Mississippi Today. She reportedly had cancer and was receiving hospice care at the time of her death. Emmett Till’s cousin, Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., reportedly sends condolences to Donham’s family in response to this news. Parker Jr. recently reminisced about the night Till was lynched.
Although Donham’s accusation of Till accosting her led to his death, Parker Jr. says the family doesn’t hold “any ill will.”
“We don’t have any ill will or animosity toward her.”
As for Devery Anderson, who wrote a book on how the case influenced the civil rights movement, Carolyn’s death marks the end of the “hope that she could be prosecuted,” Mississippi Today reports.
“It’s going to be a wound, because justice was never done. Some others were clinging to hope she might still talk or tell the truth… Now it’s over.”
Another author, Davis Houck, reportedly expressed similar sentiments. Specifically, he notes that Carolyn Bryant Donham “was never arrested or indicted for her role” in one of the “most infamous lynchings.”
“Despite efforts from the Department of Justice, the FBI, local prosecutors in Mississippi and private citizens. She was never arrested or indicted for her role in one of the 20th century’s most infamous lynchings, this despite the fact that Leflore County Sheriff George Smith had issued a warrant for her arrest days after Till had gone missing from his great aunt and uncle’s home in Money, Mississippi.”
There have recently been calls to charge Carolyn Bryant Donham in connection with Till’s death.
Protesters stormed a senior living facility in Raleigh, North Carolina, last year, looking for the woman.
Patricia Sterling, another of Emmett’s cousins, filed a federal lawsuit in February demanding that the Leflore County Sheriff’s Office serve a 1955 arrest warrant against Carolyn. This development occurred a year after an unserved warrant was discovered.
Carolyn Bryant Donham’s story has come to an end, despite the fact that she was never charged. Nonetheless, the case serves as a sobering reminder of racial violence in the United States.