Carolyn Bryant Donham

According to the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office in Louisiana, Carolyn Bryant Donham, who claimed that 14-year-old Emmett Till whistled at her and made advances toward her sexually, which led to Till being abducted and killed, has passed away.

Age-wise, she was 88.

In 1955, Bryant Donham, then 21 years old, accused Chicago visitor Till of whistling at her as she left a store in Mississippi. Roy Bryant, the spouse of Bryant Donham, and J.W. Milam, the half-brother of Bryant Donham, later kidnapped Till from the residence of his great-uncle Moses Wright.

On September 22, 1955, in Sumner, Mississippi, Mrs. Carolyn Bryant sat next to her husband Roy in court as Roy and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were being tried for the “wolf whistle” kidnapping and murder of Emmett Louis Till.

Days later, the brutalized remains of Till were discovered in the Tallahatchie River. The Civil Rights Movement was sparked by Mamie Till Mobley’s choice to allow photographs from her son’s open casket funeral to be published in Jet magazine.

Milam and Roy Bryant were accused of killing Till. An all-white jury found the two men not guilty, and they later admitted to the murder in a paid magazine interview.

Chicago native Emmett Till who was murdered in Mississippi.

After a book claimed Bryant Donham had lied in her testimony to the FBI about Till’s actions, the U.S. Justice Department reopened the investigation into Till’s murder in 2018. However, the DOJ was unable to find enough evidence to prosecute Bryant Donham at the federal level.

After a kidnapping arrest warrant, an affidavit from Wright, and court records from 1955 were discovered in the basement of a Leflore County, Mississippi, courthouse, advocates pushed for Bryant Donham’s arrest in 2022.

Bryant Donham was accused of kidnapping and manslaughter in connection with Till’s death, but a grand jury in Leflore County decided not to indict him.

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