Charles Blow: Don't Shed Tears for Carolyn Bryant DonhamBreaking News
tags: civil rights, lynching, Emmett Till, Mississippi
In 1955, Carolyn Bryant Donham (then just Carolyn Bryant), a 21-year-old white woman, accused Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, of making an unwelcome advance at her.
Those accusations led to the boy’s brutal murder. Her then-husband, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, were charged with the crime.
Now the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting has obtained a copy of an unpublished memoir by Donham in which she reportedly wrote that she “tried to protect” the boy by telling her husband, “He’s not the one. That’s not him. Please take him home.”
And, in an astonishing stroke of insensitivity, she wrote that she “always felt like a victim as well as Emmett.”
Ma’am, hush! You have been alive and breathing for nearly 67 years since Till’s bloated body was fished out of the Tallahatchie River with the fan of a cotton gin tied around his neck.
Donham is now an elderly woman, but let’s be clear: Don’t shed a single tear for her.
She didn’t just accuse Till of making improper advances on the day she first encountered the boy; she upped the ante at trial, saying that Till had also physically assaulted her, grabbing her hand so hard that it was difficult to jerk it loose, and then grabbing her around her waist.
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