Carolyn Bryant had two children, both sons: Lamar Bryant and Roy Bryant Jr. At the time of Emmett Till’s 1955 killing in Mississippi, she was living with her husband, Roy Bryant and their two sons in the back of a store the family ran together.
Bryant is known best as the white woman whose accusation led to the lynching death of Black teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi almost seven decades ago. Now, a grand jury in Mississippi has declined to indict her.
Today, a prosecutor said an arrest warrant went unserved, along with other revelations that came to light in her unpublished memoir.
A news release from Leflore County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced the grand jury’s decision August 9, 2022. It said the grand jury considered evidence and testimony regarding Carolyn Bryant’s involvement in the kidnapping and death of Till, and found insufficient evidence to indict her on kidnapping and manslaughter charges. The grand jury heard more than seven hours of testimony presented in the case of Carolyn Bryant Donham.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Bryant Family Lived in Rooms Behind Their Grocery Store
Carolyn and Roy Bryant ran a small grocery, Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market, which sold to Black sharecroppers and their children, according to PBS.
“The store was located at one end of the main street in the tiny town of Money, the heart of the cotton-growing Mississippi Delta,” PBS reported. “They had two sons and lived in two small rooms in the back of the store.”
Till and his cousins went to the store after picking cotton in the hot sun August 24, 1955, entering the store one or two at a time to buy drinks and treats. Till bought 2 cents of bubblegum. What happened next is a matter of dispute, according to PBS, some accounts said Bryant stormed out of the store and one of the children said she was going to get a pistol. The children scattered.
“Carolyn told her sister-in-law, Juanita, who was in the back of the store with their children, what had happened. They agreed not to tell their husbands, who were out of town on a trucking job,” PBS reported. “When Roy and J. W. returned, one of the kids at the scene told them what had occurred. In the Deep South—where the separation between blacks and whites was defined by law, Roy and his half-brother decided Emmett needed to be taught a lesson.”
Bryant Has Cancer & Is Receiving Hospice Care in Kentucky, Where She Lives With Her Son, Lamar Thomas
Bryant is 88 years old and receiving end-of-life hospice care in Kentucky, where she lives with her 71-year-old son, Lamar Thomas Bryant, the Daily Mail reported in July 2022.
The outlet reported her home is in an apartment community and she is on oxygen. The outlet reported that she declined to speak to the outlet through her son.
“Here she is just an anonymous old lady, living out her final days with her son in the apparent tranquility of a southern backwater town. She was last seen in 2004 when she was known to be living in Raleigh, North Carolina,” the Daily Mail wrote. “But to many, this woman is on a par with a Nazi war criminal and the decades have done nothing to dim the horror of what passed or the anger and grief that it spawned.”
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