On April 26, the nation’s first memorial to lynching in America was opened in Montgomery, Alabama. The memorial sheds light on the horrific racism that led to over 4,000 Blacks being lynched on U.S. soil. The lynchings were an act of terrorism against American citizens. Most of the acts of violence remain unsolved today.
One of the most brutal cases was the kidnapping and lynching of Emmett Till.
Emmett Till was brutally beaten, mutilated, and killed at the age of 14 over a lie. According to an article by Vanity Fair, Carolyn Bryant Donham lied about Till’s alleged conduct.
In 1955, Donham was 21-years-old and working at her husband’s store in Mississippi when the alleged encounter occurred. Till, who lived in Chicago, was visiting his family when he and his cousin went to the store. At some point, Till went inside of the store alone while Donham was at the register. After about one minute, Till left the store.
Donham lied and told her husband that Till touched her hand, made a suggestive comment, and whistled at her while he was in the store. Till’s cousin Simeon Wright, who was at the store, said that it would have been impossible for Till to do such things during the short period of time he was inside.
But Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, believed her lie and snatched Till from his family home. Till was tortured and executed by Bryant and Milam. Both men were acquitted of the crime, but later admitted to committing the crime in an interview by saying Till needed to be taught a lesson.
However, Donham should face the lesson of paying for a crime that she helped to commit. Her words led to the torture and execution of a teenage boy. She was an accomplice to a murder.
In Mississippi, being an accomplice to a murder has a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. At 82, Donham should be arrested and forced to spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Authorities have yet to reveal if Donham will face charges. She has written a memoir about the death of Till and her involvement that can’t be released until 2038.