Carolyn Bryant Donham, the White woman whose accusation led to the 1955 lynching of Black teen Emmett Till in Mississippi.
Donham died Tuesday night in Westlake, Louisiana, according to a death report filed Thursday in Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office in Louisiana.
Till’s kidnapping and killing became a catalyst for the civil rights movement when his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral in their hometown of Chicago after his brutalized body was pulled from a river in Mississippi. Jet magazine published photos.
Till traveled from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi in August 1955. 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 14-year-old Till whistled at the woman, an act that flew in the face of Mississippi’s racist social codes of the era.
Evidence indicates a woman identified Till to Donham’s then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, who killed the teenager. An all-white jury acquitted the two white men in the killing, but the men later confessed in an interview with Look magazine.