Woman who claimed Emmett Till whistled at her says she made it up in new book

By: Kelcie Willis , Cox Media Group National Content Desk

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A new book by Duke University senior research scholar Timothy Tyson seems to claim that the woman who said 14-year-old Emmett Till whistled at her, leading to the teen's brutal beating and murder, fabricated her story, according to Vanity Fair.

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According to the story, Till, a black boy visiting family in Money, Mississippi, on Aug. 24, 1955, from Chicago, went to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market and either whistled, catcalled, caressed, flirted with or otherwise spoke to Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old white woman working in the store.

Four days later, Bryant's then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam abducted Till from his great-uncle Moses Wright's house, beat and mutilated him, dragged him to the Tallahatchie River and shot him in the head, killing him. The two then tied Till up with barbed wire with a metal fan attached and tossed his body into the river. His body was pulled from the river three days later, on Aug. 31.

Till's mutilated, unrecognizable face was plastered across black publications Jet magazine and the Chicago Defender when his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, held an open-casket funeral for her son, saying she left his body on display for five days to "let the world see what has happened."

In the trial against Milam and Bryant after their arrest, Vanity Fair reported that Carolyn Bryant testified that Till grabbed and threatened her. "I was just scared to death," she said.

On Sept. 23, 1955, a jury of white males acquitted Bryant and Milam of all charges.

Since then, Bryant has disappeared from public view. Now 82 years old, her family has kept her whereabouts a secret.

In Tyson's new book, "The Blood of Emmett Till," he said Carolyn Bryant Donham -- who divorced Bryant and has married twice since then -- admits she lied about most of the accusations. Tyson spoke to Bryant in 2007, when she was 72 years old.

"That part’s not true," she said, referring to the claims of verbal and physical advances Till made on her

When asked if she remembered anything else that happened that night at the store, she said she couldn't.

Tyson is the only person to have interviewed Bryant. According to Vanity Fair, she reached out to Tyson when writing her own memoirs because she admired one of his earlier books.

"Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him," Bryant told Tyson, adding that she related to Till-Mobley when one of her own sons died, saying she "felt tender sorrow."

Vanity Fair reported that Tyson did not say whether Bryant definitively expressed guilt.

If Till were alive today, he would be 75 years old. Decades later, the image of Till's open casket and his story continues to be one of the biggest examples of racism and civil rights injustice in America.

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