On Monday, the Justice Department closed the second investigation into the tragic case of Emmett Till case. Over 60 years ago, Emmett Till was abducted and brutally murdered by two white men for offending a white woman. His case helped spark the movement for the Civil Rights Movement.
Federal officials stated there was not enough evidence to pursue charges in the case. The case reopened because a historian claimed that Carolyn Bryant Donham recanted that Emmett Till grabbed her and made sexually suggestive remarks. However, the statute of limitations and Donham’s denial of changing her story stopped the Justice Department from moving forward.
“The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson
Donham claimed that the teenager made sexually-fueled comments and physical contact during the trial. But in “The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson in 2017, Tyson wrote that Donham recanted her testimony and admitted that the earlier stories were “not true.”
“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Tyson, a researcher, and historian at Duke University, quoted Donham as saying in the book. Tyson’s claim caused outrage and calls to reopen the case. Kristen Clarke, who leads the Justice Department’s civil rights division, delivered the sad news that the case was closed to the family in person.
Tyson recorded two interviews with Donham but only provided one of the recordings to the F.B.I. Unfortunately, that one recording did not contain a recantation from Donham. Tyson stated that he did not record her confession, but he did take detailed notes. “Carolyn started spilling the beans before I got the recorder going. I documented her words carefully,” Tyson said in an email on Monday. “My reporting is rock solid.”
Where Do We Go From Here?
In a news conference in Chicago, Emmett’s family said they were disappointed by the result of the investigation but were not surprised. “I did not expect that they would have found any new evidence,” said Ollie Gordon, a cousin of Emmett Till. He added, “I ask where do we go from here?”
The Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., who was in the Mississippi Delta house when Emmett Till was kidnapped in the middle of the night, said the conclusion of the investigation marked the end of a painful 66 years for Emmett’s loved ones. “Today is a day that we will never forget,” he said. “For 66 years, we have suffered pain for his loss, and I suffered tremendously because of the way that they painted him.”
The Emmett Till case was one of the worst happenings to a child in American History. And, unfortunately, justice wasn’t delivered.