‘You can’t get away with murder’: Emmett Till’s family, friends demand justice in ‘55 lynching

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 10:30 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The close-knit family of Emmett Till held a press conference Friday afternoon inside the Mississippi State Capitol calling for truth, justice, and accountability in the 67-year-old murder case.

Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store.

Family members say the last known living accomplice in the murder case is Carolyn Bryant Donham, and Till’s family says she must be held accountable for her role in the kidnapping and lynching.

“We’ve been pressing our federal and state authorities for justice in this murder. Carolyn Byrant Donham is alive. Charge her! We are not walking on this path alone. We have over 250,000 signatures in our petition. People are with us, demanding accountability as well,” family members said.

The press conference was full of songs, powerful words, and tears as family members, friends, politicians, and even strangers took to the podium to share the same message of justice for Emmett Till.

“The determination of Mamie Till. You can not - you will not diminish her strength and courage. She showed her pain, but she knew that her child would never just be a number. Not one that is pushed under the rug, not one whose life and death would just be forgotten,” said Reena Evers-Everette, daughter of Medgar Evers, a civil rights icon assassinated in Mississippi in 1963.

“All we’re asking for is accountability,” State Representative De’ Keither Stamps said. “You can’t get away with murder.”

Family members say their bond is strong, and they won’t stop pushing law enforcement and political powers to investigate the case thoroughly. The vow to bring, “the fire of not hate, but justice.”

“When will it end? I stand with this family, and I stand with other families as well. I got your back. The time for justice is now. My mother, Johnnie Mae Chappell, was gunned down by the Klansman in Jacksonville, Florida. I was four months, not four years. Man - family - I know what you feel.”

After the press conference, family members delivered the petitions to lawmakers inside the capitol.

Monday, Congress passed the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act. Yet the family maintains that federal and state officials won’t examine evidence in the active case.

Till’s cousin, Priscilla Sterling, said a visit to Oxford on Tuesday to see the District Attorney for the Fourth Circuit Court District of Mississippi was uneventful. She alleged political influences in the 1950′s and now are preventing action in the case.

Hill said the original warrant issued for Bryant Donham was not served and should be done so now.

In a 2017 book written by Timothy Tyson, it is reported that Bryant Donham said the 14-year-old did not make sexual advances or touch her. She has reportedly denied she made those statements to Tyson.

Beauchamp, a filmmaker, produced the 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.

The petitions to pursue murder charges were sent to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and District Attorney for the Fourth Circuit Court District of Mississippi W. Dewayne Richardson.

The Justice for Emmett Till Petition link is https://tinyurl.com/y3v5dauk .

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