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Emmett Till’s Cousin Speaks Out About Decision Not To Indict Carolyn Bryant Donham

Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., cousin of Emmett Till, has called the decision not to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham “unfortunate, but predictable.”

Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., Emmett Till‘s cousin and a living witness to his 1955 kidnapping, is unsurprised that the grand jury will not indict Carolyn Bryant Donham. Following news that a grand jury in Leflore County, Mississippi has determined that the evidence to arrest Donham was “insufficient,” 67-year-old Parker shared his disappointment about the decision with ABC News.

“This outcome is unfortunate, but predictable, news,” Parker said. “The prosecutor tried his best, and we appreciate his efforts, but he alone cannot undo hundreds of years of anti-Black systems that guaranteed those who killed Emmett Till would go unpunished, to this day.”

In August 1955, Till was abducted and lynched in Mississippi by Donham’s late husband Roy Bryant, his half-brother J.W. Milamand a mob of white residents after Donham accused the 14-year-old of whistling at her in a local market. Till’s disfigured body was found in the Tallahatchie River days later.

Bryant and Milam were cleared of murder charges by an all-white, male jury, but in June of this year, an unserved 1955 warrant for Donham’s arrest was discovered in the basement of Leflore County courthouse. Although protestors searched for Donham in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she was alleged to have been residing since 2004, the 88-year-old was last sighted in Kentucky, where she reportedly lives under the care of her 71-year-old son, Thomas Bryant.

Keith Beauchamp, the director of the documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” and writer of upcoming biopic TILL, told ABC News that although Donham will not be indicted, she won’t be “riding away in the sunset without looking over her shoulder.”

“It is important that we hold people accountable for their actions if we truly want to see change in this country when it comes to civil and human rights,” he said.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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