The Woman at the Center of the Emmett Till Case
January 27, 2017 7:22 AM   Subscribe

With a renewed cultural interest in the 1955 murder that catalyzed the 20th century civil rights movement, an interview with the author of a new book who tracked down the long-hidden woman at its center.
posted by Elementary Penguin (24 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
A story of an unpunished racist murderer who feels sorry for herself certainly does feel appropriate for our times..
posted by srboisvert at 7:56 AM on January 27, 2017 [25 favorites]

Her current whereabouts, despite what the article says, are not a secret in the small town where she lives (or at least lived a decade ago). I had a frisson of horror when I was passing through and someone who lived there mentioned it. I fervently hope that no one finds it out, because having this woman threatened personally is about six kinds of the last thing that needs to happen in that area right now.

Oddly, I had heard a version of the story that sanitized her involvement, that suggested that she did not in fact want Till hurt, but when someone tipped off her jealous husband, she had to go along with it. Even if that were true, it wouldn't matter, considering her later complicity.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:04 AM on January 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

She feels "tender sorrow" for the mother of a child was brutally murdered based on lies she told and/or corroborated??

Forgiveness and reconciliation can be really powerful forces of good, but from that article uhh, I'm not actually convinced she acknowledges any scraps of responsibility for how her actions lead the lynching of Emmett Till and the absurd, sickening acquittal of his murders.

Why is this country still dealing with white supremacy as political force? Because of an abject refusal of too many white people to acknowledge of how we are, at the very least, complicit in the oppression of people of color. Without that acknowledgment and subsequent behavior modification, no real reconciliation can take place.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:10 AM on January 27, 2017 [38 favorites]

I was hoping that the "woman at the center" would be Mamie Till who insisted on an open casket funeral for her son and then embarked on a life of activism. She was one of the sparks that started the civil rights movement.
posted by Alison at 8:17 AM on January 27, 2017 [86 favorites]

I do agree that the story of white women complicit in white supremacy is a very relevant story today. I don't see much redemption in this story. She feels for the mother of Emmett Till, but not for Till himself, who was just 14 years old?
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 AM on January 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also I just learned this from Emmett Till's wikipedia page: His uncle's testimony was the first time a black person testified against a white man in Mississippi. There are many other perfectly clarifying examples of institutional white supremacy in his article, including the Sheriff who arrested potential prosecution witnesses to keep them from testifying.
posted by muddgirl at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2017 [14 favorites]

"That case went a long way toward ruining her life"

Let me see, I know I have world's tiniest violin around here somewhere...
posted by jferg at 8:41 AM on January 27, 2017 [23 favorites]

Let me see, I know I have world's tiniest violin around here somewhere...

I've completely depleted by tiny-violin stores at this point. This woman doesn't even rate that much consideration.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:48 AM on January 27, 2017 [11 favorites]

Compassion is wasted on people who have none for others.
posted by homerica at 9:01 AM on January 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

I hope she stays hidden, because otherwise Trump will nominate her for his cabinet.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2017 [21 favorites]

Mose Wright, Emmett Till's uncle, is one of the bravest men who's ever lived. He's not remembered enough by history.
posted by holborne at 11:45 AM on January 27, 2017 [16 favorites]

Is there really no way to hold her legally accountable? Her lie directly lead to Till's death.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:04 PM on January 27, 2017

Bless her sorrowful heart.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 PM on January 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I did some poking around about Carolyn Bryant awhile back and best I can tell, her nephew Phil Bryant is the current governor of Mississippi.
posted by oog at 1:13 PM on January 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thanks vibratory manner of working. That twitter thread was about a billion times better than the article.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 3:02 PM on January 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

oog, as a Mississippian, I did not know it was possible for me to hate Phil Bryant more, but sure as a by-God
posted by Countess Elena at 3:20 PM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I hadn't seen the photos until recently.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:15 PM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A couple deleted. Wow, no, let's not get into some parsing if it was harassment if Till actually whistled, etc., even with disclaimers about it not being something deserving of murder.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:13 AM on January 28, 2017 [8 favorites]

I honestly hope that this "woman" never feels a moments rest. What a wicked, vile being.
posted by dozo at 2:24 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh god, bonobothegreat. That's horrific. I knew about the lynching but hadn't see the photographs before. I've done autopsies and I had to click away.

Agree that Carolyn Bryant doesn't get a free pass just because she's 82. Thanks vibratory manner of working, for posting that Twitter thread.
posted by basalganglia at 6:31 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

That article is REALLY reaching for sympathy, but it backfired. My main thought upon finishing it was-- fuck you, Carolyn Bryant, you racist murdering piece of shit.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 7:19 PM on January 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

People like Carolyn Bryant really make me wish there were a hell, I want so much for there to be justice served. I want her to feel the pain that Mamie Till felt when she saw her son like that. I want her to be crushed under the weight of the tears that Mamie cried. I cannot even understand why this article made me so viscerally angry, I knew she was a bad person who did bad things, but to hear her whine about her tender sorrows, I just wanted to scream.

This woman doesn't deserve sympathy. She deserves derision and scorn and anger and outrage. She should have been thrown out of polite society. She should have crawled on her knees to Mamie, and begged her for forgiveness. She should have dedicated her life to making sure that something like Emmett's murder would never happen again.

I hope she never has a night of peace. I hope her dreams are filled with the screams of an innocent child as he was brutally murdered on her word. I hope every bite turns to ashes in her mouth, that water quenches like hot sand, that the air on her skin reminds her that she does not deserve her life because she willfully subjected that boy to torture and murder and then kept silent for decades. May she be plagued with misery and pain for the remainder of her days.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:35 PM on January 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

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