Most of us know the story.
In 1955, Emmett Till was brutally beaten and killed while visiting family in Mississippi after a white woman named Carolyn Bryant claimed that he was “inappropriate” towards her – common lore is that he whistled at her. An all-white jury found the two accused men innocent, despite a mountain of evidence, and were never convicted.
While most people assumed that Till was innocent, a writer by the name of Timothy Tyson was actually able to track down Bryant and get her side of the story.
She lied. And her lies sentenced a 14-year-old boy from Chicago to a death that left his body unrecognizable when it was found days later.
According to a piece written in Vanity Fair, Bryant admit that part of her story was fabricated and that she didn’t recall any other details.
“That part’s not true,” she told Tyson, about her claim that Till had made verbal and physical advances on her. As for the rest of what happened that evening in the country store, she said she couldn’t remember.
Tyson reportedly interviewed Bryant in 2007 when she was 72 years old for her memoir, which won’t be released to the public until 2036. She claimed the grief of losing one of her own sons helped her realize what Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, must have felt.
Ever since Till’s death, Bryant has mostly lived in seclusion. Tyson doesn’t make it clear whether or not the emotions she expressed during the interview could be counted as regret.
This news isn’t as shocking as it is sobering. Till’s murder is viewed as a spark for the Civil Rights’ Movement because of its ugliness and how no one was ever found guilty.
Given the hard times America is currently in, perhaps solving some of its most outstanding cold cases will lead to some necessary healing. Or, maybe, it’ll just add to the pain and fear many people already feel.