Biography & Career Of Carolyn Bryant Donham

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Biography & Career Of Carolyn Bryant Donham

Carolyn Bryant Donham is a former store owner and the wife of Roy Bryant, one of the killers of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy, in 1955.

She was born in 1934 in Indianola, Mississippi, where her father managed a plantation and her mother worked as a nurse.

She dropped out of high school and married Roy Bryant, an ex-soldier and white supremacist, after winning two beauty contests.

She and her husband ran a grocery store in Money, Mississippi that served mostly black sharecroppers. On August 24, 1955, she claimed that Emmett flirted with her and touched her hand at the store, which led to her husband and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapping, torturing, and lynching Till on August 28

Early Life & Education

Carolyn Bryant, who turned 89, was born on May 19, 1934, in Indianola, Mississippi, USA. She was the daughter of Frank and Nettie Bryant, who were white Southerners.

Her father was a plantation manager, and her mother was a nurse. She grew up in a segregated and racist society, where black people were treated as inferior and subjected to violence and discrimination.

She attended Indianola High School, where she was a cheerleader and a beauty queen. She won the titles of Miss Sunflower County and Miss Delta Rice in 1950.

She dropped out of school at the age of 16 and married Roy Bryant, a 21-year-old ex-soldier and white supremacist, in 1951.

She moved with him to Money, Mississippi, where they opened a grocery store that catered to mostly black customers.

Personal Life

Carolyn Bryant’s personal life was marked by tragedy and controversy. She married Roy Bryant in 1951 and had two sons with him, Roy Jr. and Frank.

Their marriage was unhappy and abusive, as Roy was often violent and unfaithful. He also had a drinking problem and was involved in illegal activities, such as bootlegging and gambling.

In 1955, Carolyn Bryant accused Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago, of flirting with her and touching her hand at their store.

This allegation sparked one of the most notorious and brutal murders in American history, as Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapped, tortured, and killed Till on August 28, 1955.

They dumped his mutilated body in the Tallahatchie River, where it was later found. The two men were arrested and tried for murder, but an all-white jury acquitted them in September 1955.

They later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview in 1956 but were never retried due to the double jeopardy law.

The murder of Till and the acquittal of his killers sparked outrage and protests across the country and the world and became a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

Carolyn Bryant testified against Till during the trial, but she later recanted her testimony and admitted that she lied about his actions.

She said that Till never touched her or made any sexual advances and that he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

She also said that she felt “tender sorrow” for Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who fought for justice for her son until she died in 2003.

Carolyn Bryant never apologized or expressed remorse for her role in Till’s death, and she has been widely condemned and vilified by the public and the media.

She has also faced death threats and harassment and has lived in hiding for most of her life. She changed her name several times and moved to different locations, such as Greenville, Mississippi, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She divorced Roy Bryant in 1979 after he was convicted of assault and battery and sentenced to six months in jail.

She remarried twice, first to David Donham, a Baptist minister, in 1980 and then to James Roberts, a retired Air Force officer, in 1997.

Both of her husbands died of cancer in 1995 and 2010, respectively. She has two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

She currently lives in a nursing home in Mississippi, where she suffers from dementia and other health problems.

Career

Carolyn Bryant did not have a notable career, as she was mainly a housewife and a store owner. She helped her first husband, Roy Bryant, run their grocery store in Money, Mississippi, from 1951 to 1956.

The store was a source of income for the couple, as they sold goods and services to mostly black customers, who were sharecroppers and farm workers.

The store was also the site of the encounter between Carolyn Bryant and Emmett Till, which led to the latter’s murder and the subsequent trial and acquittal of the killers.

The store was closed in 1956 after the Bryants lost their business due to the boycott and backlash from the black community.

They moved to Texas, where they worked as sharecroppers for a while before returning to Mississippi in 1957. They opened another store in Ruleville, Mississippi, but it was unsuccessful and closed in 1961.

Carolyn Bryant did not work again after that, and she lived off her husband’s pensions and social security benefits. She also received royalties from her memoir, I Am More Than a Wolf Whistle, which was leaked and published in 2022.

Net Worth

Carolyn Bryant’s net worth is estimated at around $300k.

Death

Carolyn Bryant is still alive as of 2023 but is in poor health and a nursing home. She has dementia and other age-related diseases, and she is under constant care and supervision.

She had not made any public appearances or statements since 2008, when she confessed to historian Timothy Tyson that she lied about Emmett Till’s actions.

She has not received any visitors or correspondence from her family or friends and has been isolated and lonely. She has not expressed any regrets or apologies for her role in Till’s death, and she has not shown any signs of remorse or repentance.

She has not faced any legal or moral consequences for her actions, and she has not been held accountable or responsible for her part in one of the most horrific and shameful episodes in American history.

Controversy

Carolyn Bryant has been involved in several controversies and scandals throughout her life, most notably the murder of Emmett Till and the acquittal of his killers.

She has been accused of lying, racism, hatred, cruelty, and complicity in the crime, and she has been denounced and despised by the public and the media.

She has also been sued and challenged by the Till family and the civil rights activists, who have demanded justice and accountability for Till’s death. Some of the controversies and scandals that Carolyn Bryant has faced are:

In 1955, she claimed that Emmett Till flirted with her and touched her hand at her store, which led to her husband and his half-brother kidnapping, torturing, and killing Till on August 28.

She testified against Till during the trial, but she later admitted that she lied and that Till was innocent.

In 1956, she and her husband sold their story to Look magazine for $4,000, and they confessed to the murder of Till in a magazine interview. They were never retried or punished for the crime due to the double jeopardy law.

In 1962, she and her husband were sued by Till’s uncle, Mose Wright, for $100,000 for kidnapping and false imprisonment. The case was dismissed by a federal judge, who ruled that the statute of limitations had expired.

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