On Wednesday (July 6), groups of protesters gathered at the last known address for the woman who accused Emmett Till of making lewd comments toward her in the 1950s. In August 1955, 14-year-old Till was visiting family in Mississippi when he reportedly flirted with a white woman. The teen, from Chicago, Illinois, was unaware of the rules practiced in the segregated Deep South. The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, alerted her husband of the boy’s alleged advances, which led to his kidnapping and brutal murder.
As previously reported by REVOLT, last week (June 29), a warrant calling for Donham’s arrest was found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. The document is dated Aug. 29, 1955. Till’s funeral was an open casket viewing and sent shockwaves throughout the world. It showed the boy’s body after he was beaten and shot. Barbed wire had been tied around his neck before he was tossed into the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a fan from a cotton gin. Donham’s husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were acquitted at trial for Till’s death. Authorities let Donham go free because they “did not want to bother her.” A 2017 article from the New York Times claims Donham admitted that parts of her story about Till that led to his murder were untrue.
Last week’s warrant discovery led protesters to a senior living facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. According to the New York Post, one person yelled, “Time to face your demons. Come on out,” as they searched for the now 88-year-old woman. Local Raleigh news station WRAL stated that police arrived on the scene soon after protesters entered the facility, prompting a brief lockdown. Protesters also reportedly showed up at a Raleigh home said to be associated with Donham.
In December, Till’s case was closed by the Department of Justice. Although the DOJ described it as “one of the most infamous acts of racial violence in our country’s history,” they said there was nothing more that could be done. “No federal hate crime laws existed in 1955, and the statute of limitations has run on the only civil rights statutes that were in effect at the time,” a report by the DOJ said.