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White Woman Whose Accusations Caused Emmett Till’s Murder Dies At 88

White Woman Whose Accusations Caused Emmett Till’s Murder Dies At 88

Oumou Fofana
04/27/2023 12:00 AM EDT

The white woman at the center of the 1955 kidnapping and lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till has died.

According to Mississippi Today, Carolyn Bryant Donham, 88, was battling cancer and was receiving hospice until the end of her life. She died Tuesday (April 25) night in Westlake, Louisiana.

Till was accused of whistling at Donham in a grocery store after traveling south from Chicago to visit family in Mississippi in August of 1955. This was an act that flew in the face of the state's racist social codes of the era. Evidence indicated that her then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam tortured and killed the teenager. Weeks after the body was found, Bryant and Milam were tried for murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. Months later, the men confessed their crime in a paid interview.

The lynching of Till became the center of the civil rights movement after his mother Mamie Till Mobley insisted on having an open-casket funeral in Chicago and Jet magazine published photos of his mutilated body. Since then, Till’s family had been fighting for Donham to be indicted.