Sunday, October 2, 2022

Family of lynching victim Emmett Till seek justice after finding 1955 warrant

In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till was accused of making a lewd pass at a white shopkeeper in Money, Mississippi.

Four days later the 14-year-old black boy was lynched by her relatives in what would become one of the most emblematic cases of racial injustice in America’s civil rights era.

Sixty-seven years on, Till’s family are now calling for the arrest of the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, after rediscovering a warrant against her in the dusty archives of Lefore County.

Ms Donham, who was 21 when she made the accusation, is now 88. According to the old warrant, she was involved in kidnapping Till.

Despite two failed reopenings of the case in the last 20 years, Till’s cousin Deborah Watts and her daughter, Teri, continued to search for evidence that they hoped might see somebody jailed for the killing.

They knew that the warrant against Ms Bryant Donham existed because it was publicized at the time of the murder, despite not being acted on.

But the Leflore County archives have no indexing system beyond sorting documents into boxes labeled by decade, leaving them with a monumental task in finding it.

‘Serve it and charge her’

Ms Watts and her helpers, part of the Emmett Till Foundation which she heads, were able to narrow the search down to boxes relating to the Fifties and Sixties, but that was it.

Finally, after years of systematic searching, one of the boxes gave forth exactly what they were looking for: the warrant charging Ms Bryant Donham with kidnapping.

The county clerk, who certified the warrant as genuine, said the group had “got lucky” in their search.

“Serve it and charge her,” Teri Watts said.

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