Carolyn Bryant Lied and Emmet Till was Murdered

Last fall, I sat on the front porch of what’s left of the Bryant General Store. I was there for a good long time, staring at the bare fields across Money Road and thinking about what happened here. I read the plaque and sat at the roadside thinking.

Now, this.

But as Carolyn became reflective in Timothy Tyson’s presence, wistfully volunteering, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.” She also admitted she “felt tender sorrow,” Tyson would note, “for Mamie Till-Mobley”—Emmett Till’s mother, who died in 2003 after a lifetime spent crusading for civil rights. (She had bravely insisted that her son’s casket remain open at his funeral in order to show America what had been done to him.) “When Carolyn herself [later] lost one of her sons, she thought about the grief that Mamie must have felt and grieved all the more.” Tyson does not say whether Carolyn was expressing guilt. Indeed, he asserts that for days after the murders, and until the trial, she was kept in seclusion by her husband’s family. But that “tender sorrow” does sound, in its way, like late-blooming regret.

How Author Timothy Tyson Found the Woman at the Center of the Emmett Till Case