In 1955 Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black boy lynched after a Mississippi woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, claimed he whistled at her. The killers who beat him to the point that he was unrecognizable were acquitted of kidnapping and murder by an all-white, all-male jury. Then, free of further legal jeopardy, they admitted to it. The murder of Till became a key point in the Civil Rights movement.
Last week, thanks to Timothy Tyson, we learned that Donham lied. learned Donham admitted she lied. In a new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” Timothy Tyson, a Duke University senior research scholar, reveals that Carolyn—in 2007, at age 72—confessed that she had fabricated the most pivotal part of her testimony. “That part’s not true,” she told Tyson, about her claim that Till had made verbal and physical advances on her. As for the rest of what happened that evening in the country store, she said she couldn’t remember.
The Justice Department began an investigation into the Emmett Till lynching in 2004, Emmett’s body was exhumed for an autopsy, and the F.B.I. rediscovered the long-missing trial transcript. But in 2007, a grand jury decided not to indict Ms. Donham, or anyone else, as an accomplice in the murder.
“I was hoping that one day she would admit it, so it matters to me that she did, and it gives me some satisfaction,” said Wheeler Parker, 77, a cousin of Emmett’s who lives near Chicago. “It’s important to people understanding how the word of a white person against a black person was law, and a lot of black people lost their lives because of it. It really speaks to history, it shows what black people went through in those days.”
Source: Vanity Fair