While searching the basement of a Mississippi courtroom, an unserved warrant for Emmett Till’s accuser has been discovered. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday (June 29) that the warrant charged Carolyn Bryant Donham, identified as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the document, in Till’s kidnapping.
The document was discovered sometime last week, confirmed Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill who also certified the authenticity of the document.
“They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky,” said Stockstill of the discovery.
The search was carried out by members of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two of Till’s surviving relatives—cousin Deborah Watts, head of the foundation, and her daughter, Teri Watts. Till’s family hopes the discovery leads to the arrest of Bryant Donham.
“Serve it and charge her,” Teri Watts told the AP. “This is what the state of Mississippi needs to go ahead,” she said.
At the time, knowledge of the warrant for Bryant Donham’s arrest was known, however, the sheriff did not act on it. The current Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks explained to AP he was unaware of the warrant and shared “nothing was said about a warrant” when a former district attorney reopened the cases for investigation five years ago.
“I will see if I can get a copy of the warrant and get with the DA and get their opinion on it,” Banks said, claiming if he was able to act on the warrant, officials in Bryant Donham’s hometown would be contacted to discuss how to proceed.
On March 29, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill into law after it was passed by the House in February. Although three Republicans voted against the measure, the bill was passed in a 422-3 vote
“I just signed into law the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, making lynching a federal hate crime for the first time in American history,” remarked Biden at a press conference.
“Emmett Till was born nearly 40 years ago after the first antilynching law was introduced. Although he was one of thousands who were lynched, his mother courage — his mother’s courage to show the world what was done to him energized the Civil Rights Movement.”