By Bro. Kareem Muhammad
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
Sixty-seven years after the kidnapping, torture, brutal mutilation, and murder of young 14-year-old Emmett Till on August 25, 1955, the original arrest warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham was found at the Leflore County Courthouse in the basement stored away in the corner. On July 7, the Emmett Till family, along with supporters of the Justice for Emmett Till, called a press conference at the steps of the federal building in Jackson, MS to reveal the findings of the warrant and demand the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham. Priscilla Sterling, cousin of Emmett, demanded that District Attorney Dewayne Richardson act on this warrant. “We have uncovered new information that directly connects her to the actual kidnapping of my cousin Emmett,” she continued. “We will not stop until all those responsible for the brutal murder of young Emmett Till are held accountable.”
Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, Chairman of the New Black Panther Party and community activist, stood in solidarity with all of those supporting the Till family and their fight for justice. Speaking to the press and thousands of viewers who watched live via social media, Shabazz fervently expressed, “We plan to stay with this until we get justice or else!” he shouted out to the crowd of over fifty supporters who stood on the steps in 95-degree heat.”What do we want?” And the crowd responded, “Justice!” The call and response continued, “When do we want it?” “Now!” “How do we want it?” “By any means necessary!”
In the darkness of the night, Roy Bryant and others snatched young Emmett from his uncle Moses’ home, on August 25, 1955. His body was found two days later on August 27 in the Tallahatchie River in Money, MS. Brother Kareem of the Local Organizing Committee of Jackson, MS said, “We must give thanks to Mother Mamie Till who allowed the ancestors to guide her spirit to show the world the horrific inhumane act of hatred that was done to her child.”
He further explained that the Local Organizing Committee is not a single organization; however, it consists of various national and local organizations such as the NAACP, NBPP, NOI, NBUFA, NCOBRA, religious organizations, local entities, and grassroot activists. “We come today in solidarity to say, ‘Justice or Else!’ We the citizens of Mississippi today hold much power in our votes, and today our ‘or else’ means we plan to exercise that power by holding everyone accountable for the restoration of our families and the injustice done upon them. We are committed to mobilizing our people under the concept of SOS – Saving Our Selves, Solving Our own Situation, and Securing Our Streets. We must take control of our own lives. We must do this, or else,” Brother Kareem concluded.
Andrew Campbell, a member of LOC of Jackson and president of the Black Social Workers Association of MS, worked diligently to coordinate the press conference and spoke about the importance of being in the spirit of collective work and responsibility. “We must find a common narrative to work together on,” said Campbell. “Our unity is our greatest weapon. The LOC of Jackson along with the Black social workers are committed to the restoration and fight for justice for Emmett Till and all of those whose lives were stolen from them, and no justice was ever given,” he said to the crowd. Some of the supporters held signs up that read “Justice for Emmett Till!” as onlookers gathered.
Later in the evening, others met in Greenwood to speak to District Attorney Dewayne Richardson to demand the issuance of the warrant and arrest of Carolyn Bryant. Greenwood, Mississippi’s first Black city clerk allowed the ancestors to guide him to expose a 67-year-old cover up. The LOC and the NAACP representative Charles Motley of Sunflower County, MS, along with other local and national grassroot organizations such as the Black Liberation Movement of Coldwater, MS, the Black Lives Matter Group of Memphis, TN and the Nation of Islam in Greenwood, MS, stood in solidarity as Attorney Malik Shabazz shared the demands from the Till family and the Black community. “We demand that the district attorney sit down with the Till family to discuss this new found evidence that clearly deserves a response. Secondly, we demand that he activate the warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham.”
The family for Justice for Emmett Till returned to Greenwood, MS on Thursday, July 29 with a rally cry for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant. Over 50 people from around Mississippi and as far away as Tennessee and Missouri were in solidarity with the family of Emmett. Priscilla Sterling, cousin of young Emmett, along with her aunt Anna Laura Williams and other family members, demand the arrest of Carolyn Bryant. “She must certainly be arrested and put on trial,” said Sterling. “We are not sympathetic toward her because she is 88 years old. My cousin Emmett never lived to see his 15th birthday. She participated in the kidnapping and murder of our young Emmett. Arrest her!” Sterling continued. “There is more evidence and witnesses that were never questioned, and some are still alive today. This goes all the way up to U.S. senators involving themselves in the trial that got J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant found not guilty,” Sterling concluded.
Various organizations of the Black Movement came to support the family by assisting with soliciting signatures from citizens of Leflore County for the petition. The organizers committed themselves and their organizations toward the continued effects of justice for Emmett Till and all those families of murdered sons and daughters by hands known and unknown. Across America on July 25 a vigil was held on the birthday of Emmett who would have turned 81 years old. Future plans for the Justice for Emmett Till Movement will happen on August 28 in Jackson, Mississippi and a national petition drive is underway. If you desire to be a part of Justice4Emmett, please contact the Local Organizing Committee at 662-577-1258 or The Justice4Emmett Foundation online.
The Local Organizing Committee launched a petition campaign and a lookout for Carolyn Bryant, along with a mass movement toward political power. To learn more about how to get involved, contact LOC MS at Local Organizing Committee of Greenville MS on Facebook.