In 1955, Carolyn Bryant Donham claimed that a 14-year-old black Chicago teen named Emmett Till whistled at her, which lead to the vicious killing of Till by J.W. Milam and his half-brother Roy Bryant, who was married to Carolyn.
Now, in 2017, Timothy Tyson, a senior research scholar from Duke University, reveals that Carolyn Bryant Donham made up that Till flirted with her in his new book, The Blood of Emmett Till.
Vanity Fair reports that when interviewed by Tyson for his book in 2007, the then-72-year-old woman, who divorced Roy and has been married twice since, told the author that Till did not make any verbal or physical advances at her. She also did not remember what else happened that night at that country store in Mississippi. Donham is now 82 and her whereabouts are being kept a secret.
“That part’s not true,” she said. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.” As for how she feels in the 21st century about some of the strides made with racial equality, Tyson notes the Carolyn “was glad things had changed [and she] thought the old system of white supremacy was wrong, though she had more or less taken it as normal at the time.”
Tyson also wrote that Carolyn also said she felt “tender sorrow” for Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett’s mother.
“When Carolyn herself [later] lost one of her sons, she thought about the grief that Mamie must have felt and grieved all the more,” the article reads.
Tyson’s book will be published next week through Simon & Schuster.