Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman who accused Emmett Till of flirting with her, has been spotted for the first time in 20 years. In 1955, a then-21-year-old Donham was working as a store clerk in Mississippi when she met 14-year-old Till. He was in town from Chicago, visiting family for the summer. In a newly released, unpublished memoir, the white woman claimed the Black boy’s vulgar flirting led to his horrific death. He was tortured and lynched in what was one of the most gruesome killings in American history.
“What’s the matter, baby? Can’t you take it? You needn’t be afraid of me, I’ve fucked white women before,” Donham claims Till told her, as written in her book. The woman later shared that story with her husband. Soon after, he and his half-brother kidnapped Till from his family’s Mississippi home in the middle of the night before torturing and killing him. No one ever served jail time for Till’s death. Nearly 70 years later, the boy’s surviving family members and supporters are still demanding justice.
Yesterday (Aug. 2), BET reported that Donham, 88, was seen for the first time in two decades. According to the outlet, Till’s accuser receives hospice care at her home in Kentucky. The woman is reportedly legally blind, requires the use of oxygen tubes and has cancer. A reporter for the Daily Mail approached the elderly accuser and her son, 71-year-old Thomas Bryant, and asked for a comment about Till. The pair declined to give a statement. The outlet published photos of Donham. In one, the woman is looking out of a window. Her hair is gray, she’s wearing glasses and an oxygen tube is connected to her nose.
In June, an Aug. 29, 1955 warrant that called for Donham’s arrest was found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. The discovery has sparked a new interest in the case. On July 6, a group of protesters descended upon her last known address in Raleigh, North Carolina demanding justice. They had no luck finding her. After the Daily Mail published her photos, the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation tweeted, “#CarolynBryantDonham found! CALL the DA #DewayneRichardson NOW! 662-378-2105. Demand he #ServeTheWarrant.” Another user added, “It is not too late to prosecute.”