Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused black teenager Emmett Till of making improper advances at her, leading to him being lynched, has died at the age of 88.
Donham, who had been battling cancer, died Tuesday night, April 25, in hospice care in Westlake, Louisiana, according to a death report filed Thursday, April 27, 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.
Till traveled from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi in August 1955. Donham — then named Carolyn Bryant — accused him of making improper advances on her at a grocery store 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.
Evidence indicates a woman identified Emmett Till to Carolyn’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.
In an unpublished memoir obtained by The Associated Press in 2022, Donham said she was unaware of what would happen to the 14-year-old Till. Donham was 21 at the time.