The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Woman Admits Story That Led To Murder Of Emmett Till 'Not True'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 27, 2017 5:59PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

The woman whose story led to the notorious lynching of Emmett Till—the murder that helped ignite the civil-rights movement—admitted that she made up her claim that Till made verbal and physical advances on her, according to Vanity Fair.

Till, 14, was visiting family in Mississippi from Chicago in August of 1955, when he spoke with Carolyn Bryant Donham, a white married grocery store owner, for about one minute at the shop. At the time, she claimed Till whistled at her, grabbed her and made advances. A few days later, Donham's husband, Roy, and Roy's half-brother, J. W. Milam, abducted, mutilated and murdered Till.

A white jury quickly acquitted Milam and Roy of Till's murder after Donham's testimony.

But Donham told author Timothy B Tyson, "that part’s not true," referring her claim that she had been harassed, according to Vanity Fair.

Donham had remained mum about the subject for decades after the murder before speaking with Tyson, a research scholar at Duke University who wrote a book about the murder called The Blood of Emmett Till, to be published next week.

Donham "felt tender sorrow for [Till's mother] Mamie Till-Mobley,” Tyson noted, according to Vanity Fair. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Donham told Tyson; but the author doesn't mention if she expressed guilt or apologized.

Till's mother demanded an open-casket funeral, so that the public could see the brutal, graphic evidence of the crimes perpetrated against Emmett and failures of the justice system. The outrage that ensued helped launch the civil-rights struggle in 1955.