The White woman who accused Black teenager Emmett Till of whistling at and accosting her in Mississippi in 1955 — causing his lynching, which galvanized a generation of activists to rise up in the Civil Rights Movement — has died at 88.
Carolyn Bryant Donham died in hospice care Tuesday night in Westlake, Louisiana, according to a death report filed Thursday in the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office.
Her death marks the last chance for anyone to be held accountable for the kidnapping and murder that shocked the world.
Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on an open-casket funeral in their hometown of Chicago so the world could see her 14-year-old son’s mutilated body, which was pulled from a river in Mississippi. Jet magazine published photos.
In August 1955, Till had traveled from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi. Donham — then 21 and named Carolyn Bryant — accused him of making improper advances on her at a grocery store where she was working in the small community of Money. The Rev. Wheeler Parker, a cousin of Till who was there, has said Till whistled at the woman, an act that flew in the face of Mississippi’s racist social codes of the era.