Carolyn Bryant Donham, age 88

This is Carolyn Bryant Donham, age 88…

This was Carolyn Bryant, age 19…

“Missy” Carolyn and her husband, Roy Bryant, ran a grocery/dry goods store that catered primarily to Black sharecroppers in and around Money, Mississippi during the early 1950's.

Bryant's Grocery circa 1955
The ghostly remnants of Bryant’s Grocery today…

For those unaware, the recently released photos of a now octogenarian Carolyn Bryant have drawn so much interest this past week because back in 1955, she lied on Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who had come south to Mississippi to visit his family for the summer. Bryant falsely claimed that on August 27th of that year, that Till had flirted by “wolf-whistling” at her, and that the child had touched her inappropriately while she worked at her family’s grocery store. Later that evening, Carolyn rode with her husband, Roy, and J.W. Milam to the sharecrop farm of Mose Wright, Emmett's uncle, and watched as the men seized the child against his will.

While it is not known whether Carolyn watched the brutal lynching that ensued, the fact remains that she was an accomplice to the kidnapping and a principal to the gruesome first degree murder that served as a catalyst to what would become the Civil Rights Movement.

Earlier this year, a typed arrest warrant for Carolyn Bryant was discovered in an old sealed box in the courthouse basement in Mississippi. While Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were charged and infamously acquitted in less than an hour of lynching Emmett Till, Carolyn, shown laughing with her husband and the Milams after the verdicts below, was NOT charged despite the fact that her role was just as critical as theirs in the eventual brutal killing of a child. Nota Bene: Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam confessed to the murder during an interview with Look magazine less than a year after the acquittals. However, due to double jeopardy grounds, the pair could not be charged a second time for murder.

But as the saying goes, "murder stays murder," which means that in theory, there's no statute of limitations to prevent Carolyn Bryant from being charged right now—even with most of the witnesses long since deceased (old trial transcripts and her very own statements through the years could prove critical and damning during a trial).

Sadly, America 🇺🇸 has rarely aggressively hunted down lynch mobsters and even right now, there are some who dismiss the previously hidden arrest warrant and say "well, Mrs. Bryant is almost 90 and in poor health with cancer—let her die in peace, and let God judge her soul!" To which I reply, “to Hell with that—church and state are separate in America, and a state prison can provide medical care for Missy Carolyn's cancer the same as Hospice.”

Lest we forget…

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Chuck Hobbs is a freelance journalist who won the 2010 Florida Bar Media Award and has been twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

(1) comment

Frances Marion

its embarrasing to be a white woman when you read about Emit Till. And she needs to die in jail.

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