Emmett Till’s Family Seeks Arrest Of Carolyn Bryant Donham After Finding a 1955 Warrant
A team has found evidence concerning the lynching of civil rights icon Emmett Till – an unserved warrant charging a white woman for his 1955 abduction – and the victim’s family wants her arrested.
The warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham, 88, was found last week, Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill said. She claimed in 1955, Till touched her and made sexual advances toward her in a family store, during the peak of segregation in the south.
“Execute the warrant!” the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation posted on Instagram with a photograph of the warrant.
The search group included members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and family members: cousin Deborah Watts, head of the foundation; and her daughter, Teri Watts. They want Donham arrested, who at the time was married to one of the two men tried and acquitted weeks after Till was abducted, killed and dumped in a river.
Last year, the U.S. Justice Department said it failed to prove Donham lied about Till, though the department said there was “considerable doubt as to the credibility of her version of events.”
“Serve it and charge her,” Teri Watts said.
Even though the arrest warrant for Donham was public, the Leflore County sheriff told reporters he did not want to “bother” her because she had two young children to take care of.
Teri Watts said the Till family believes the warrant accusing Donham of kidnapping amounts to new evidence that could lead to an arrest. “This is what the state of Mississippi needs to go ahead,” she said.
Till, who was 14 at the time, was visiting family in Mississippi from Chicago, when he went into the store Donham, then 21, was working at on August 24, 1955. Till’s cousin said he whistled at the woman, while Donham claimed he grabbed her and made a suggestive comment.
Days later, Donham’s husband at the time, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam beat and killed Till before putting his body in a river only to be found days later.
Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley decided to have an open casket at his funeral, so the people of Chicago could see the gruesome brutality her son endured, aiding the creation of the civil rights movement.
Both men were acquitted of murder but later admitted to the killing in a magazine interview. Authorities did not pursue the case after acquittal.
Bryant died in 1994 and Milam in 1981.