“Today is a day that we’ll never forget,” Till’s cousin Rev. Wheeler Parker said at a press conference following the DOJ’s announcement. “Officially, the Emmett Till case has been closed after 66 years. For 66 years we have suffered pain for his loss, and I suffered tremendously because of the way that they painted him.”
“I’m not surprised, but my heart is broken,” Thelma Wright Edwards, Till’s cousin, said. “I pinned diapers on Emmett. I lived with him, he was like a brother to me. I have no hate in my heart, but I had hoped we could get an apology. But that didn’t happen, nothing was settled. The case is closed, and we have to go on from here.”
As REVOLT previously reported, the Justice Department announced on Monday (Dec. 6) that it was closing its investigation into the 1955 lynching of Till. Per CNN, the DOJ said it was unable to prove whether Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused the 14-year-old of making sexual advances at her, lied to authorities.
Donham previously testified that Till grabbed her hand and solicited her, saying that he had been with “white women before.” When she was later confronted with her testimony in 2008, Professor Timothy Tyson alleged she told him, “That part’s not true.” His claim called for the case to be reopened, although the Justice Department had already concluded a year earlier that no one could be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. Federal investigators spoke to Donham again, but she denied ever recanting her previous testimony.
Till was in Mississippi visiting family when he was kidnapped, beaten and killed by Donham’s husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam. The two men were charged for his death, but later acquitted by an all-white jury. Bryant and Milam later admitted to killing Till during a paid interview.