Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman involved in the murder of Emmett Louis Till in Mississippi, retold her side of what happened between the fallen teen and herself in August 1955 in her 100-page memoir titled “I Am More Than A Wolf Whistle.”
It has not been released, but NewsOne obtained a copy through an anonymous source. The 88-year-old woman filled the memoir with details of her childhood, the night Till was brutally murdered, the trial and life after the verdict.
Donham sat down with her daughter-in-law Marsha Bryant in 2008 and 2009 and ended her silence while Marsha typed away. Amid all of those details and her painting herself as a victim, not once does she take accountability for Till’s murder.
The first part of “I am More Than A Wolf Whistle” swung through Donham’s childhood in the 1930s and 1940s. Donham illustrated herself as an innocent child oblivious to the profound racism in Jim Crow South despite being surrounded by racist family members, all to persuade people to believe she’s not the heartless and racist woman depicted in the black and white photos of her in a courtroom.
Arriving at her account of Aug. 24, 1955, and the day her former husband Roy Bryant “forced” her to identify Till the details don’t add up.
Donham stated in the memoir and testified in court that the store incident took place around 8 p.m. Nine young people were on the porch and her sister-in-law, Juanita Milam (the wife of John William Milam who was involved in Till’s killing), was in the back babysitting Donham’s children.
But Juanita testified in court that she was not in the store that day and was in Greenville, adding she “would not have been babysittin’ for her.”
Her sister-in-law went even further and accused Donham of fabricating her story, saying she only did it in hopes of Roy taking over the store if a traumatic experience occurred to make her scared to run the store alone.
“The door opened and a young black man, who appeared to me to be in his late teens or early twenties entered the store,” she wrote.
The man she was referring to was 14-year-old Till.
The widow claimed he asked to buy candy and she went to grab the candy he asked for. When she placed the candy on the counter and reached her hand out to collect the money, she said Till grabbed her hand forcefully and asked her out on a date. She jerked her hand away and allegedly ran to get Bryant’s pistol, in which Till managed to catch up to her and grab her by the hips.
“What’s the matter, baby? Can’t you take it?” TIll allegedly asked. “You needn’t be afraid of me, I’ve f**ked white women before.”
She said she screamed yet no one could hear her. Following the store incident, Donham said that she tried to keep it a secret from her Bryant but word supposedly got around in the town, leading his husband to go on a manhunt for Till.
She described how she tried to protect Till from her husband, how she felt terrible for his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and how the tragedy put a strain on her marriage.
Donham felt “sorry” for Mamie to the point where she wanted to contact her and apologize for the pain her husband and other people caused the grieving mother. But not Donham because she allegedly didn’t do anything.
On the last page of her bogus memoir, she took the victimization up a notch saying that God won’t punish her for something she didn’t do. She also said she forgave those who threatened and wrongfully accused her.
“I always felt like a victim as well as Emmett,” she audaciously said. “He came in our store and put his hands on me with no provocation. Do I think he should have been killed for doing that? Absolutely, unequivocally, no! Did we both pay a price for it, yes, we did. He paid dearly with the loss his life. I paid dearly with an altered life.”
In June, an unserved arrest warrant for Donham was discovered and the family is calling for her arrest. It’s unclear if the arrest warrant is enough to re-open the case since it’s old but it’s possible. Till’s case was re-opened in 2004 but closed shortly after due to a lack of evidence.