They want Donham sent to prison!


She's 88 years old: We've just returned from several hours off campus. We find that we've been thinking about a conversation we saw on CNN last night

Laura Coates and Areva Martin conducted the conversation. They want Carolyn Bryant Donham sent to prison, right now.

We aren't saying they're right or their wrong in their assessment. We will say that we think their conversation was extremely instructive.

Unpacking the facts a little bit more, Coates and Martin want Donham sent to prison for her role, real or imagined, in a vicious murder she rather plainly didn't commit. 

The unmistakably vicious killing occurred in 1955. For the record, Carolyn Bryant Donham is 88 years old.

The brutal murder was conducted by Donham's husband and brother in-law. It was one of Mississippi most famous, most vicious racial murders. 

The innocent victim was Emmett Till, who was just 14 years old.

Why were Coates and Martin discussing this well-known case? Below, you see the start of their conversation, and you can see the general outlines of their view of the case:

COATES (8/9/22): A grand jury in Mississippi declining to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham. If that name sounds familiar, she is the white woman who accused a 14-year-old Black teenager, Emmett Till, of making advances towards her nearly 70 years ago. 

Now, those accusations led to Till's brutal death, a murder that shook America to its core and frankly does to this very day.

And only after Emmett Till's mother decided to have an open casket funeral—and a warning that this image is disturbing—for the world to see what they did to her boy, the horrors done to her son. Do you realize that Emmett Till would've turned 81 years old two weeks ago?

CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, she joins me now. 

Areva, nothing at all lessens the shock and the pain of seeing that image or thinking about this happening seven decades ago. And yet, after seven hours of testimony, the grand jury decided there wasn't enough evidence to indict her on kidnapping or manslaughter charges. 

Now, there is a difference between how people think about moral culpability, legal culpability, and what a grand jury would be deciding, right?

MARTIN: Well, absolutely, Laura. It is shocking as the story is and the horrors of it. As you said, even 70 years later, it is still as painful to think about what happened to Emmett Till.

I am not surprised that the grand jury did not come back with an indictment for Carolyn Bryant. We know that there have been efforts over the last 10 to 15 years to have the case, you know, reopened, to have it re-investigated, to have charges brought against Carolyn Bryant. But every time that there has been a re-investigation of the facts of this case, the outcome has been the same.

There's been a determination that there is just not enough evidence to charge her, even though we know that there is this alleged memoir where Carolyn Bryant apparently recanted her statement about what Emmett Till did. 

But even with that memoir being out in the public sphere, no district attorney has been willing to move forward with charges against her.

COATES: We also learned that back in June, there was an unserved warrant for her arrest that was found charging her and her then-husband Roy Bryant and brother-in-law J.W. Milam in Emmett Till's abduction.

I have to tell you, just saying their names just sickens me to think about what they did, what the two men, what they did to Emmett Till. It really—it causes me a great deal of pain to even articulate that. They were arrested and they were acquitted on murder charges, only to then confess later.

But Donham, she was never taken into custody. So, this wasn't followed up on? I mean, no arrest warrant until now? That's stunning to people.

MARTIN: It absolutely is stunning. And you talk about the system failing this family. That's exactly what happened, Laura. The system failed the Till family.

The conversation continues from there.

Donham's role in the Emmett Till murder has been re-investigated several times in the past seventeen years. Coates thinks it's stunning that grand juries have refused to charge Donham, though she never quite answers this obvious question:

What should those grand juries have charged Donham with?  What should Donham, age 88, be frog-marched to prison for? 

Should she be charged with kidnapping or manslaughter? Coates is happy to float the idea, but she doesn't bother attempting to explain the logic of her suggestion, or the state of the evidence, to the extent that any exists.

Two grand juries have now found insufficient evidence to charge Donham with anything. If memory serves, the grand jury back in 2005 or 2007 was predominantly black.

Still, the journalists want to see her shipped off. For their full conversation, click here.

We've been watching American journalists on a daily basis for the past twenty-four years. This conversation seemed familiar in certain unflattering ways.

We saw no particular sign that Coates and Martin could have reported the remarkably complicated facts of this very old, horrid case. That said, they made it clear where they stood:

They want to see Donham sent to prison, though it wasn't entirely clear what she should be sent there for.

Donham is 88 years old. It isn't clear that she played a direct role, of any kind, in this vicious killing.

That said, the journalists want to see her locked up. In several ways, this conversation shows us the complex face of our flailing nation as it slides down toward the sea.

The past isn't even past. We believe Abraham Lincoln said that!

Further disclosure: Your lizard brain will urge you to say that the journalists are right. That said, you and your sacred lizard brain don't have the slightest idea what the facts are either.


  1. Tsk. Oh, dear.

    Well, what can we say? The usual, we suppose: thank you, dear Bob, for documenting this tiny-little portion of the latest liberal atrocities...

  2. Send white collar criminals to prison, reap the benefits of prison reform.

  3. "It isn't clear that she played a direct role, of any kind, in this vicious killing."

    She lied about what Till did and that lie contributed to his being attacked and murdered. The two men who committed the crime did so because she lied and they may have been acquitted because they were avenging what they thought was an assault against her. She not only instigated the attack on Till but contributed to his attackers being let off after their crime. Lying under oath is a crime.

    Donham had to have known that something bad would happen to Till as the result of her accusations. That makes her culpable, as much as if she had attacked him herself instead of by inciting violence through these two men.

    It is frustrating that she recanted her testimony and still the case was not retried.

    This is an egregious case. For Somerby to pretend that this demonstrates Democratic blood lust is ridiculous. Somerby is race-baiting again. It is not OK for white people to kill innocent black people, whether in 1955 or now, and Somerby's complaint that crimes in the past should be bygones is inappropriate because it implies that our racist past should be forgiven and forgotten, wiped clean, even though there are similar atrocities still being committed. Racism is happening now and Somerby needs to acknowledge that continuing to punish racist acts is a way to let today's people know that racism is still not OK.

    1. "She lied about what Till did." No doubt that's correct. And, I imagine is such a lie is a crime, However, I see two insuperable difficulties:
      1. How do you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she lied?
      2. I imagine that crime has a statute of limitations, so that she could not longer be prosecuted for it.

    2. 1. She said so in her memoir.
      2. Perjury during a murder trial cannot have a statute of limitation because murder has none.
      3. You can skip the trial and just send her straight to hell.

    3. Please. They won't even charge the racist douchebag who lied to 911 and got a guy killed at a Walmart for the crime of shopping while black.

    4. "Lying under oath is a crime."

      Unless you're Demigod Bubba. If you are, lying under oath is a must; perfectly lawful and innocent.

    5. Anon 8:14 - according to Martin, quoted in TDH's post, it is an "alleged" memoir. As to perjury, did she actually testify at the trial? I don't know - do you? I believe the trial was in state court - how do you know what the statute of limitation was under that state's laws? Send her straight to hell - what does that mean?

    6. Mao, there is a difference between committing perjury in a murder trial and giving a weaselly answer in a deposition in a civil case about whether you had 'sex" with someone who isn't even involved in the civil case.

    7. Leaving aside your "weaselly answer" lying dembottery, both qualify as "lying under oath", dear dembot.

      The thesis "lying under oath is a crime", suggested by dear government scientist, is either true or false. ...well -- or meaningless.

    8. Her lying wouldn't have been criminal. The only question, therefore, is whether she had some part in the kidnapping and murder. It doesn't seem like there is any evidence of her culpability.

    9. Bubba's lying under oath was not deemed perjury by a judge. It's been adjudicated and closed. Donham's lying under oath was probably also not perjury. She never accused Till of a crime. She bears moral culpability for his death, but probably not legal.


    10. "Bubba's lying under oath was not deemed perjury by a judge."

      BS. Demigod Bubba wasn't charged with perjury. be exact: he was, by the congress (articles 1 and 2), but not within the judicial system.

  4. It doesn't matter that she is now 88 years old. There are elderly people being punished finally for their roles in the Holocaust. There are serial killers being brought to trial finally for crimes committed in the long past. There is no statute of limitations on murder and certain other crimes. Emmett Till was murdered. Is Somerby a moron?

  5. "you and your sacred lizard brain don't have the slightest idea what the facts are either"

    Somerby feels confident saying this, but he won't call Trump a liar.

    Here are some facts:

    1. Emmett Till is dead.
    2. His murderers were acquitted.
    3. This woman recanted her trial testimony but Somerby won't say she did anything wrong.
    4. Somerby is an asshole.

    If I commited murder yesterday, that too is in the past. Shall I be absolved of that crime because past is past? I doubt Abraham Lincoln would say yes.

    The only reason age matters in charging crimes is that children have diminished capacity and they will chage as they get older. The same is not true of 88 year old women. Her best days were in 1955, when she committed at least the crime of perjury, by her own admission. But Somerby thinks her age should let her walk away from her past. Has it done that for any of us? Not so much.

  6. Racists all get a "get out of jail free" card when they turn 88.

    1. She's nice now, unless you're a 14 year old black kid.

  7. The statute of limitations for perjury in Mississippi is two years. There are no living witnesses to anything else Carolyn Donham might have done, and short of extracting a confession of some kind from her on the witness stand, it is difficult to imagine how any type of conviction could be obtained in a trial. That is the sad but hard reality.

    1. Somerby pretends he is interested in legalities but his main point is that we are bloodthirsty for wanting justice for Emmett Till who was the victim, not this 88 year old woman who got away with her crime all her life.

  8. The failure to prosecute Donham teaches us one lesson. If women accuse males of sexual harassment, like Donham did, the women should be prepared to be charged and imprisoned, unless they have eyewitnesses.