On March 12, people gathered at Smith Park in downtown Jackson and marched to the governor’s mansion to demand that Carolyn Bryant Donham, the last living accomplice in the infamous murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, be served the warrant that the Department of Justice never served.
The march comes just days after Congress passed the Emmett Till bill to finally make lynching a hate crime in the United States. Shamefully, it has taken some 200 failed bills over the past century to get U.S. politicians to ban the racist practice of lynching, which has its roots in the era of chattel slavery. No doubt this recent development was influenced by the 2020 summer rebellion during which tens of millions marched against racist terror.
Emmett Till’s case itself has been reopened and closed twice over the past 67 years, but the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation has not allowed the unjust American justice system to silence the fight. Members of Till’s family were present at the march and spoke of continuing the fight for Emmett’s mother Mamie, who bravely opened the casket for the world to see what a racist mob had done to her only son.
“This struggle for Emmett Till is the struggle to end the nightmare of U.S. terrorism,” said Jaribu Hill, founder and executive director of the Mississippi Worker’s Center for Human Rights. “Because you can walk out of your house, you can walk down the street, and get shot just because of the color of your skin,” he went on to say.
Despite the criminal U.S. justice system’s attempts to dismiss, minimize, and hideaway this infamous lynching, Emmett Till’s family continues to demand justice.
“Every day [Carolyn Donham] is not arrested, that’s a choice” said Joshua Till, member of the Till family.
Representatives of the North Mississippi NAACP, Mississippi M.O.V.E., the Southern Region New Black Panther Party, Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights, Louisiana United International, along with Mississippi legislators, were in attendance and addressed the attendees of the rally. Emmett Till continues to live in the collective memory of many Mississippians.
Chants of “She lied, he died” referenced Carolyn Bryant Donham, who is still living, as the instigator of Emmett’s lynching. A white supremacist system has protected women like Carolyn and continues to do so to this day. It has been 67 years since the lies of a 21-year-old white woman caused a 14-year-old Black boy to be viciously murdered by white vigilantes in Mississippi.
Gerald Justice, a leading organizer with the Southern Region New Black Panther Party, who traveled from Houston to Jackson to attend the rally, remarked, “[lynchings] are still a big problem today. Most people won’t even believe it.”
The only recent passage of the Emmett Till anti-lynching act serves as a reminder that only a united people’s movement of oppressed and working-class people can force the hand of U.S. politicians to charge Carolyn Donham.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation’s online petition has gained over 300,000 signatures demanding Carolyn be brought to justice. You can sign the petition to demand that Carolyn be charged.