The U.S. federal government has reopened the murder case of 14-year-old Emmett Till who was brutally murdered in 1955 by two white men after he was accused of wolf-whistling at Carolyn Bryant Donham who was then married to one of Till’s killers.
Till, who was from Chicago and was visiting his family in Money, Mississippi could finally get justice following the receipt of “new information”, the U.S. Justice Department told Congress in a report in March.
The new information is unknown but it follows the publication of a book by historian Timothy B. Tyson, who quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn’t truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a store in 1955.
The case, which helped inspire the civil rights movement, was reopened after it was closed in 2007 when the authorities said the suspects were dead and a state grand jury didn’t file any new charges.
Till’s killers, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, abducted him from his home and was beaten and shot, and his mutilated body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River.
This was after then 21 years old Carolyn Bryant claimed that the boy had touched her inappropriately. She testified in 1955 as a prospective defence witness that a “nigger man” she didn’t know took her by the arm.
According to a trial transcript released by the FBI a decade ago, she was asked to describe what the boy told her.
“He said, ‘How about a date, baby?'” she testified. Bryant said she pulled away, and moments later the young man “caught me at the cash register,” grasping her around the waist with both hands and pulling her toward him.
“He said, ‘What’s the matter baby, can’t you take it?'” she testified. Bryant also said he told her “you don’t need to be afraid of me,” claiming that he used an obscenity and mentioned something he had done “with white women before.”
The two white men, who are both dead, were charged with murder but acquitted in just an hour by an all-white Mississippi jury. The two suspects went on to publicly confess to the murder of the young boy in an interview with Look magazine a year after they were exonerated but weren’t retried.
This prompted the pressure from the Till family to open the case in 2004 to charge Carolyn Bryant Donham for aiding and abetting murder and accessory. Donham, who turns 84 this month, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Emmett Till’s murder was a shock to the world especially after his mother decided to leave the casket open at her son’s funeral for the world to see her son’s body, which was hardly recognizable.
“It is the most infamous civil rights case in the history of this country”: Emmett Till’s murder reopened 63 years after the teenager was killed, due to new information https://t.co/KJRIQKFdME pic.twitter.com/qjxA7AznqZ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 12, 2018