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Emmett Till’s accuser will not be charged by the Justice Department (video)

Emmett Till's accuser will not be charged by the Justice Department (video)
Emmitt Till (Image source:  YouTube/ABC News screenshot)

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that they will not charge the woman who falsely accused Emmett Till of making lewd sexual remarks to her, which got him brutally killed and then dumped in a Mississippi river in 1955.

There is not enough evidence to support an author’s claim that Carolyn Bryant Donham recanted her story that Till touched her and whistled at her inside a store she owned in Money, Mississippi, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded, according to ABC News.


After the FBI conducted painstaking interviews with Donham, the bureau concluded that the statute of limitations, along with her denial that she changed her account of that encounter with Till, makes it impossible for the Justice Department to move forward with prosecuting her.

The Black teen’s gruesome killing made international headlines when Till’s mother, Mamie Till, decided to have an open coffin at her son’s funeral which showed much he had been battered and mutilated by Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother. It has been called the true beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The two White men later admitted to killing Till, though it came after they were acquitted of the crime by an all-White jury. The men are now deceased.


Timothy B. Tyson published the book The Blood of Emmett Till in 2017 where he claims that Donham had recanted her testimony in a 2008 interview by saying the previous version of her account to the police were “not true.”

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Tyson, Duke University historian and researcher, claims that Donham said to him. 

Those published words dug up old wounds and incited passionate calls for the Justice Department to reopen the case. However, the head of Justice’s civil rights division, Kristen Clarke, told the family personally that the case has now been closed for good.

During a news conference in Chicago, where Emmett Till was born and raised, the surviving family members conveyed their hurt by the Justice Department’s decision. They added, however, that they were not surprised.

“I did not expect that they would have found any new evidence,” said an Emmett Till cousin, Ollie Gordon, according to ABC News. “I ask where do we go from here.”

Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. has had to live with the horror of that night for 66 years. He was a child in that infamous Mississippi house when White men busted in the door and snatched Till up in the middle of the night. Parker never saw Till again.

“Today is a day that we will never forget,” Parker said. “For 66 years we have suffered pain for his loss, and I suffered tremendously because of the way that they painted him.”

Flip the page to view the full news report on the Justice Department’s decision to close the case on Till.

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