As previously reported by REVOLT, on Tuesday (April 25) night, Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman whose lies led to the horrific murder of Emmett Till, died from cancer. She was 88 years old and passed away in Louisiana in hospice care, the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office confirmed. The news broke today (April 27).
In 1955, Till, then 14 years old, traveled from Chicago to visit family in Mississippi for the summer. While in a local convenience store with relatives, the young boy was accused by Donham of flirting and making improper advances — something a Black person was prohibited from doing in the Deep South at the time. The white woman told her then-husband Roy Bryant, and he and his half-brother J.W. Milam kidnapped the child, severely beat him, shot him, tied a 75-pound cotton gin fan to his body and tossed him into the Tallahatchie River. The two men were acquitted by an all-white jury, and no one ever served any jail time for the murder.
Social media users are expressing mixed reactions to news of her passing. “I’m going fishing. It’s really nice outside today,” one person said in response to her death. Others were far more outraged. “Death is not justice. An arrest warrant was issued for Carolyn Bryant Donham in August 1955 related to the murder of Emmett Till, but it was never served. Instead, she was able to live a full life to 88 years old. Emmett Till only lived to 14 years old. This is not justice,” another tweeted. “Hell got another demon today. Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman whose lies led to the murder of Emmett Till, has died. May her soul never know peace,” another added.
Others called out media outlets for their choice of words in the matter. “The white woman at the center of the Emmett Till saga, Carolyn Bryant Donham, has died,” one Hattiesburg, Mississippi news station tweeted. “Fixed It: Lying-a** Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who [was] never punished for causing the kidnap, torture, and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, is dead,” a user replied. “Carolyn Bryant Donham, whose [lies] led to the murder of Emmett Till, has died. That she did this having never been prosecuted and incarcerated for her actions attests to the resilience of American white supremacy,” another said.
See more reactions below.