Right out of the pages of that novel, predating it by five years only ...
Carolyn Bryant Donham, the White woman whose accusation led to the 1955 lynching of Black teen Emmett Till in Mississippi – and whose role in the brutal death was reconsidered by a grand jury as recently as last year – has died in Louisiana, the Calcasieu Parish coroner’s office confirmed to CNN.
In August 1955, 14-year-old Emmett was beaten and shot to death after he allegedly whistled at Bryant – now Donham – in Money.
Later, her husband, Roy Bryant, and J.W. Milam, took Emmett from his bed and ordered him into the back of a pickup truck and beat him before shooting him in the head and tossing his body into the Tallahatchie River. They were both acquitted of murder by an all-White jury following a trial in which Carolyn Bryant testified that Emmett grabbed and verbally threatened her.
Milam, who died in 1980, and Bryant, who died in 1994, admitted to the killing in a 1956 interview with Look magazine.
In 2007, a Mississippi grand jury declined to indict Donham on any charges.
Donham testified in 1955 that Emmett grabbed her hand and waist and propositioned her, saying he had been with “White women before.” But years later, when professor Timothy Tyson raised that trial testimony in a 2008 interview with Donham, he claimed she told him, “That part’s not true.”