This story really is an American tragedy & is such a throw back to how things “once were” in the dirty south. I guess I need to question myself on if this decision is really a surprised.
While looking for information to share on Emmet Till, I stopped by PBS & they never cease to amaze me with their wealth of information. For those of you who may not be aware of Emmet’s story, here’s a quick synopsis:
In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began. (Source | PBS)
Lack of indictment ends Emmett Till investigation
JACKSON, Miss. — A grand jury that looked into the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till — a black teenager who was killed after he whistled at a white woman in the Mississippi Delta — has refused to indict her, all but closing the books on a crime that galvanized the civil rights movement.
The district attorney in rural Leflore County had sought a manslaughter charge against Carolyn Bryant Donham, who was suspected of pointing out Till to her husband to mete out punishment for what was then a grave offense in the segregated South.
But the grand jury last Friday issued a “no bill,” meaning it found insufficient evidence, according to documents made public Tuesday.
Federal authorities decided last year not to press charges, saying the statute of limitations for federal charges had run out. Mississippi authorities represented the last, best chance to prosecute.
Till, a 14-year-old boy visiting from Chicago, was kidnapped from his uncle’s home in the town of Money and shot and beaten after he wolf-whistled at Donham, a shopkeeper at the Bryant Grocery & Meat Market.
Three days later, his mutilated body was found in the muddy Tallahatchie River, weighted down with a cotton gin fan. His left eye was missing, and his right eye was dangling on his cheek. The body was identified only by a ring he was wearing.
His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003, held an open-casket funeral in Chicago, and a photograph of Till’s disfigured face in Jet Magazine had a powerful effect on public opinion, letting the world see what was happening in the South.
Roy Bryant, Donham’s husband, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury in 1955. The two men later confessed in an interview with Look magazine. Both are now dead.
The FBI reopened the case in 2004 but decided in 2006 not to press charges. The case was turned over to local prosecutors, with the FBI suggesting they take a closer look at Donham. Some witnesses said a woman’s voice could be heard at the scene of the abduction.
Simeon Wright, 64, a black man who was in the store that day with his cousin Emmett and said he heard the wolf-whistle, got the news from the FBI on Tuesday.
“You’re looking at Mississippi,” he told the Associated Press. “I guess it’s about the same way it was 50 years ago. We had overwhelming evidence, and they came back with the same decision. Some of the people haven’t changed from 50 years ago. Same attitude. The evidence speaks for itself.”
He added: “I don’t know how many years I have left on this Earth. We can leave this world and say, ‘Hey, we tried. We tried to get some justice in this, and we failed.’ ”
Donham, who remarried, is now 73 and has declined interviews. A telephone number for her was disconnected Tuesday.
District Attorney Joyce Chiles, a black woman who grew up near where the killing took place, was in court Tuesday and not immediately available for comment.
David Beito, a history professor at the University of Alabama who has researched the case extensively, said it is hard to underestimate the importance of the Till case, which took place the same year as the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.
“It gave a jump-start to the civil rights movement,” he said. “It did not create the civil rights movement, but it made it more into a mass movement. It really mobilized people.”
Wright said: “J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant died with Emmett Till’s blood on their hands. And it looks like everyone else who was involved is going to do the same. They had a chance to come clean. They will die with Emmett Till’s blood on their hands.” (Source | Detroit Free Press)
You gotta hear the discussion on this from the African American Roundtable so check it out here