Carolyn Bryant Outlived Emmett Till By 68 Years
The Woman Who Got Him Killed Lived A Long Life
Emmett Till was fourteen when 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant accused him of flirting with her in 1955. Carolyn worked behind the counter of Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market, owned by her husband, Roy Bryant, in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till was visiting from Chicago, where he lived. His mother, Mamie, gave him "the talk" about how to behave, warning that social conditions in Mississippi were much different than in Chicago.
Emmett walked to the store with some of his cousins, including Simeon Wright, to buy candy. However, Till went into the store by himself, and there were varying accounts as to what happened next, all provided by Carolyn Bryant. Bryant told her husband that Till "flirted with her." She later told a jury that Till "grabbed her by the waist and told her he'd been with white women before." In a 2007 interview, Bryand denied there was any touching saying she "made it up." She added that "nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him." When Till left the store, he whistled at Bryant, which his cousin Simeon verified. “He had no way of knowing because he didn’t know that way of life. And he left, and that’s the last time we saw him alive,” Simeon Wright said.
Carolyn Bryant reacted by leaving the store and getting a gun from her car. The group of boys ran away after seeing the gun. Bryant didn't tell her husband for a few days; he reacted by questioning and threatening Black men around town to identify who Till was and where he was staying. He located that home and, along with his half-brother, J. W. Milam, broke in early on August 28, 1955. They made Emmett get dressed and forced him outside into their pickup truck, threatening Till’s family with guns.
Several people were in the truck, including some Black sharecroppers forced to participate in identifying Till. They stopped twice to beat Till severely, then shot him in the head, dumping Till's body in the Tallahatchie River. The body was so mangled it could only be identified by the ring bearing Till's father's initials. Emmett's uncle reported Till's abduction and named Roy Bryant and J. W. Milan the kidnappers. The pair were arrested even before the body was found three days later.