Report: Emmett Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, in Kentucky receiving hospice care
The now-88-year-old woman who set off the series of events that led to the murder of 14-year-old Till reportedly has cancer.
Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman who set off the series of events that led to the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, reportedly is receiving hospice care in Kentucky.
The Daily Mail published photos of Donham, who is 88, and reported that she’s near the end of her life, sick with cancer. It noted that Donham is also legally blind and often requires the use of oxygen.
The news outlet’s reporters approached her home — located in a town they wouldn’t disclose — and asked if she would talk about Emmett Till. Her 71-year-old son, Thomas Bryant, shook his head no while his mother stood silently nearby.
It was Donham, a white 21-year-old, who told her then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his brother, JW Milam, that Till had whistled at her in August of 1955. The men kidnapped the Black Chicago teen from the Mississippi home of relatives he was visiting. They then murdered him and wrapped a large metal fan around his neck with wire before dumping him into the Tallahatchie River. His body, horribly mutilated, was recovered three days later.
When his mother, Mamie Till, chose to bury him in an open casket, outrage over his murder reverberated across the nation. The crime is considered one of the sparks of the modern civil rights movement.
As previously reported by theGrio, an unserved warrant charging Donham with kidnapping was discovered in June. A team seeking evidence in the killing found the document inside a file folder placed in a box in a Mississippi courthouse basement. A member of the Till family said that the woman should be served and subsequently charged. The discovery of the warrant has led supporters to seek out Bryant, with one group entering a North Carolina senior living center last month to look for her.
Most recently, an unpublished autobiography by Donham, called “I am More Than A Wolf Whistle,” was provided to the Associated Press. According to previous reporting by theGrio, in the manuscript, Donham claims that she tried to help Till.
“I did not wish Emmett any harm and could not stop harm from coming to him, since I didn’t know what was planned for him,” Donham says in the manuscript compiled by her daughter-in-law. “I tried to protect him by telling Roy that ‘He’s not the one. That’s not him. Please take him home.’”
She claims in the manuscript that Till, who had been dragged from a family home at gunpoint in the middle of the night, spoke up and identified himself.
Donham wrote that she “always felt like a victim as well as Emmett” and “paid dearly with an altered life” for what happened to the targeted teen.
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