Relatives of Emmett Till joined supporters Friday in asking authorities to reverse their decision to close an investigation of the Black teenager’s 1955 lynching and instead prosecute, Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman at the center of the case.
“We demand that the state of Mississippi hold Carolyn Bryant Donna accountable for her role in the kidnapping and lynching of Emmett Louis Till.” Emmett’s cousin Deborah Watts said in a recent press conference. “It’s important for you to know that Emmett’s murder remains unsolved and the last living accomplice in the murder case is Carolyn Bryant. And yes, she is alive. She denies that she recanted her story that Emmett made sexual advances towards her…and her family stands by the lie that she told in 1955. She lied and Emmett died.”
Till was kidnapped and murdered in Mississippi after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman in a store. His death sent shockwaves throughout the country and galvanized the Civil Rights movement. Two white men, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, not only confessed to torturing and killing 14-year-old Till. But during an interview with Look magazine they even admitted to shooting and throwing his body in the Tallahatchie River. And in true American fashion, the pair was acquitted by an all-white jury.
The Justice Department announced in December it was ending its renewed investigation into the killing of Till after officials had reopened the investigation for a third time back in 2017.
On Monday, Congress gave final approval to legislation that for the first time would make lynching a federal hate crime, sending the bill to President Joe Biden. Years in the making, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is among some 200 bills that have been introduced over the past century that have tried to ban lynching in the U.S.
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