Who is Carolyn Bryant Donham? Biography and Wikipedia
Carolyn Bryant Donham is an American woman widely searched for being the accuser of Emmett Till. Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old African American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store.
Carolyn Bryant Donham Age Today
Carolyn Bryant is 88 years of age as of 2022, she was born in 1934, in Indianola, Mississippi, United States.
Is Carolyn Bryant Donham alive today? Her house
Yes, Carolyn Bryant is alive as of 2022, she has been celebrating her birthday every year with her close family. Her residence is top secret by her immediate family.
ABC11 stopped by Bryant Donham’s home on Tuesday. An unidentified woman opened the door.
When told ABC11 wanted Bryant Donham’s response to the FBI ending its investigation, the woman said “no comment.”
Carolyn Bryant Donham Family
Carolyn Bryant, the daughter of a plantation manager and a nurse, was born in Indianola, Mississippi, the birthplace of the segregationist and supremacist white Citizens’ Councils. She was a high school dropout who won two beauty pageants before marrying ex-soldier Roy Bryant.
Carolyn Bryant Donham Husband
Carolyn was married to her husband Roy Bryant from 1951 to 1979. Donham has two kids with her late husband, Roy Bryant. She eventually divorced Roy and remarried again.
Carolyn Bryant Donham Children Today
Lamar Bryant and Thoman Lamar Bryant are living in a secret location away from the public eye. In the 1950s, their parents were implicated in a murder, but they were not charged because there was insufficient evidence to prove it was them.
Carolyn Bryant Donham and Emmett Till Incident
On a steamy hot September day in 1955, two white men, J.W. Milam and his half-brother Roy Bryant—a country-store owner—were acquitted of the murder of a 14-year-old black Chicago boy in a racially segregated courtroom in Sumner, Mississippi.
Emmett Till was his name, in August of that year, while visiting a part of the Deep South he didn’t understand, Till went into a store to buy two cents worth of bubble gum.
He most likely whistled at Bryant’s 21-year-old wife, Carolyn, shortly after exiting. Bryant and Milam, enraged, took matters into their own hands. They would later confess to local authorities that they had kidnapped Till three nights earlier.
When they were done with him, his body was so horribly disfigured from being bludgeoned and shot that its horrifying depiction—in a photo in Jet magazine—helped to propel the American civil rights movement.
Milam and Bryant were arrested, and the prosecution produced compelling evidence with the help of NAACP Mississippi field secretary Medgar Evers and other black activists in seeking witnesses. Nonetheless, it came as no surprise when the all-white, all-male jury returned a “not guilty” verdict in just over an hour. After all, there had been very few convictions for white-on-black murders in Mississippi.
And the state was the nation’s leader in lynchings. (Four months after their irreversible acquittal, Milam and Bryant admitted their guilt to Look magazine, for which they received a $3,000 fee.) The most explosive testimony, which undoubtedly influenced the local white public’s perception of the motive for the murder, came from Carolyn Bryant, who worked in the store that night. She claimed on the stand that Till grabbed her and verbally threatened her. While she was unable to say the “unprintable” word he had used (as one of the defense lawyers put it), she claimed that “he said [he had]'”—done something – “with white women before.” “I was just scared to death,” she added.
(He may or may not have whistled; he was said to speak with a lisp.) Carolyn then vanished, never speaking to the media about the incident. But she is no longer hidden. Timothy Tyson, a Duke University senior research scholar, reveals in his new book, The Blood of Emmett Till (Simon & Schuster), that Carolyn admitted in 2007, at the age of 72, that she had fabricated the most sensational part of her testimony. “That part isn’t true,” she said of her claim that Till had made verbal and physical advances on her. She couldn’t recall the rest of what happened that evening in the country store. (Carolyn is now 82, and her family has kept her current location a secret.)
Tyson’s book, which will be released next week, comes after the definitive study of the case, Devery S. Anderson’s Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement, which was published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2015. (Writing to Save a Life, John Edgar Wideman’s meditation on Till, was named a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award last week.) Despite this, no author, with the exception of Tyson, has ever interviewed Carolyn Bryant Donham. (Both her ex-husband and brother-in-law are deceased.) “That case went a long way toward ruining her life,” Tyson claims, explaining that she would never be able to forget about it.
His compelling book is infused with information that Donham shared with him in a “confessional” spirit over coffee and pound cake.
Carolyn had approached Tyson because she was working on her memoirs. (According to Tyson, her manuscript is in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill library archives and will not be available for public viewing until 2036.) Her daughter had admired Tyson’s previous book, Blood Does Sign My Name, which was about another racist murder committed by someone Tyson’s family knew. And Tyson, the son of a Southern preacher, claims that when he met Carolyn, she “could have fit in at a Tyson family reunion”—even at the local church.
Clearly, he observed, she had been influenced by the social and legal advancements that had swept the South over the previous half-century. “She was relieved that things had changed [and] thought the old system of white supremacy was wrong, even though she had accepted it as normal at the time.” She didn’t formally repent; she wasn’t the type to join racial reconciliation organizations or appear at the new Emmett Till Interpretive Center, which aims to promote understanding of the past and point the way forward.
But, in Timothy Tyson’s presence, Carolyn became reflective, wistfully volunteering, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
She also admitted to Tyson that she “felt tender sorrow” for Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003 after a lifetime spent crusading for civil rights. (She had bravely insisted that her son’s casket be left open at his funeral so that America could see what had happened to him.) “When Carolyn herself [later] lost one of her sons, she thought about Mamie’s grief and grieved even more.” Carolyn was not expressing guilt, according to Tyson. Indeed, he claims that her husband’s family kept her in seclusion for days after the murders and until the trial. But, in a way, that “tender sorrow” sounds like late-blooming regret.
Carolyn Bryant Donham, however significant her appearance in Tyson’s book, has receded into her private life. This is regrettable. With a polarized electorate, renewed racial tensions, and organizations and Web sites promoting white supremacy, her changed attitude, if genuine, could have real meaning today.
I spoke with Myrlie Evers-Williams, the 83-year-old widow of Medgar Evers, who was assassinated by a racist attacker in 1963, shortly before the election. She told me that the vitriol on display at some of Donald Trump’s rallies last year gave her “more and more and stronger flashbacks” to terrifying years she thought were behind her. Having said that, she also stated that she wished for “the past to remain the past… Medgar wished for America to be better.”
Reverend Jesse Jackson shares her optimism. Nonetheless, the impact of Till’s assassination remains with the civil rights leader to this day. “It’s like Russian roulette,” Jackson says emphatically. “You never know what bullet will go off in a galvanizing moment.” But this “bullet” most emphatically did. “In 1988, I asked Miss Rosa Parks why she didn’t go to the back of the bus, given the risk of being hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up.” She stated that she considered sitting in the back of the bus. But then she remembered Emmett Till, and she couldn’t do it. ” According to Jackson, Emmett Till’s lynching “was a defining moment in the history of lynchings.”
It was the first major lynching story to emerge following the 1954 [Brown v. Board of Education] decision, and blacks jumped on it. ” Even the date of Till’s murder, he claims, has remained significant throughout our time. “Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was delivered on August 28, 1963,” he explains. “And Barack Obama was nominated for president on August 28, 2008.”
We have reason to revisit a period in our history when bigotry, blood, and sacrifice became a call to action, thanks to Tyson’s new book and Carolyn Bryant Donham’s remarks.