No evidence could be found to support an author’s claim that a key figure in the case was dishonest when it came to the 1955 murder of a black Mississippi boy.
Monday, the Department of Justice (DoJ) met with Emmett Till’s family and made the announcement.
It was only after a white woman claimed he had harassed her in a store that the Chicago 14-year-old was kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
The civil rights movement in the United States was sparked by his death.
For Emmett’s funeral, his mother insisted on an open coffin, which shocked the nation when images of the boy’s decomposed remains were published.
According to a book, an important white woman’s testimony was doubted in 2018 by the Justice Department (DoJ).
Emmett Donham allegedly grabbed Carolyn Bryant Donham by the waist, uttered profanity, and asked her out on a date in the family grocery store in Money, Mississippi, on August 24, 1955.
However, historian Timothy Tyson’s best-selling 2017 book, The Blood of Emmett Till, quoted her as recanting this story.
Her first known interview reveals that her testimony about Emmett’s alleged sexual advances six decades ago was untrue, the author claims.
Ms. Donham, however, denied ever retracting her testimony, and the Department of Justice stated in a statement on Monday that the FBI had interviewed her.
Officials found “insufficient evidence to prove she ever told the professor that any part of her testimony was untrue,” according to the statement.
A professor claimed he had recorded two interviews with her, but only provided the FBI with one recording, which did not include any retraction.
“The professor also provided inconsistent explanations about whether the missing recording included the alleged recantation or whether, instead, the woman made the key admission before he began recording the interview,” the statement continued.
No transcript of interviews with Mr. Tyson was found to back up the claim that Ms. Donham had denied her story.
According to the book, Ms. Donham said: “That is not correct. Nobody could ever justify what happened to that little boy.”
It’s unclear what Ms. Donham was referring to when she was quoted as saying “that part is not true” in the author’s account, according to the Department of Justice.
During the two tape-recorded interviews with Mr. Tyson, Marsha Holley Bryant, the daughter of Ms. Donham’s husband, said that Ms. Donham had never retracted her statements.
On Monday, Mr. Tyson, a historian, and researcher at Duke University in North Carolina stood by his account.
The New York Times received an email from him saying: “As soon as Carolyn started talking, I started recording. Her words were meticulously recorded in my notebook.”
According to him, “My reporting is rock solid.”
“I am standing in the public square telling the truth as I see it based on solid evidence,” he wrote in an email to NBC News.
While eyewitnesses claimed that the cousin of Emmett Wright, Simeon Wright, had wolf-whistled outside the store, Mr. Wright insisted that Emmett had never spoken out of turn to Ms. Donham.
Emmett was beaten and shot in the head four days later when he was dragged from his uncle’s house and assaulted. His body would be found in a nearby river.
Roy Bryant, Ms. Donham’s ex-husband, and JW Milam, her brother-in-law, were charged with Emmett’s murder. After just over an hour of deliberation, an all-white jury found them not guilty.
In a paid magazine interview months later, they admitted to the murder but insisted they had done nothing wrong.
The two were never retried and have since died.
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