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|“||Let that goddamn stuff die. Look what they done with Beckwith. And now they want to get me, well, to hell with them. I'm not gon' talk about it.||„|
|~ Bryant during an interview regarding the murder.|
Roy Bryant (January 24th, 1931 - September 1st, 1994) was one of the two people (the other being his half-brother J.W. Milam) who brutally lynched Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American boy who allegedly "wolf-whistled" at his wife, Carolyn Bryant, at a supermarket that they owned when he went to visit his relatives in Money, Mississippi.
The lynching of Emmett Till was one of the first major hate crimes to gain visibility on a national level. Because of the murder, Emmett's story inspired many African-Americans to fight for their civil rights and thus it sparked the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
When Till arrived to Mississippi, he and his cousin decided to skip church and went to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Department to get candy. After Emmett had shown a picture of his school from Chicago, Illinois, to a group of local children, one of the children dared Emmett to enter into the store, even though it would violate the Jim Crow laws. Emmett accepted the challenge, and went in.
Variations of what Emmett did in the store have been heavily disputed. Some say he wolf-whistled at her, some said he said "Bye, baby" to her as he left the store, or some say that he grabbed her by the arm and asked her out on a date. Whatever the reason, Carolyn Bryant (Roy's wife) stated that he grabbed her by the waist and said unspeakable words to her. When Roy discovered what Emmett supposedly did to his wife, he planned on teaching Till a lesson.
On August 28th, 1955, Roy, his half-brother J. W. Millam, and a third man, and a woman arrived at Mose Wright's house between 2:00-3:30 a. m. They proceed to knock on the door, and then questioned Wright on if he had three boys in the house. When Mose takes them to see the children, they immediately asked Emmett if he was the one who did the talking to Roy's wife, he responded that he did, and they tell him to get dressed. They were offered money by Till's great-aunt if they let him go, but they didn't respond to her offer.
They then put Emmett in the back of a pickup truck and took him over to the Clint Shurden Plantation in Drew, Mississippi. They then proceeded to pistol-whip the young man, and he was placed in the back of the pickup truck once again and they also put a tarpaulin over his body. He was also believed to have been taken to Milam's shed in Glendora and was beaten again. Witnesses had reported on hearing screaming that was coming from the shed. Emmett was then taken to the Tallahatchie River and was shot. Roy and his brother then began the process of weighing his body with 70-pound cotton gin which was tied around his neck with barbed wire. Till's gruesomely mutilated body was later discovered along the side of the river three days later.
At the wishing of Till's mother, Emmett's funeral was open-casket. Thus, the world was given the nightmarish image of Emmett's swollen, disfigured body.
|“||And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers commit this awful crime.
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.
|~ Bob Dylan, "The Death of Emmett Till"|
Roy and his brother Millam were later taken to court to be judged. Their court day was in September of 1955. They were tried by a whole white trial, and, as a result, they were acquitted from Emmett's kidnapping and murder. Later on, in 1956, they shared their story with Look magazine and were protected because of double jeopardy. Milam then confessed that he murdered Emmett, but he didn't feel remorse for it because he didn't see anything wrong with killing the young man. As a result of their interview, many Blacks stopped going to their stores and they went bankrupted due to their lack of customers. Roy later lived a private life and married a second time. At the age of 63, he died of cancer. Throughout his private life, he denied killing Emmett. However, he did say that Emmett would've lived had he stayed in line.
Civil Rights Movement
Because of the outcome of the trial, many African-Americans were outraged because of the injustices surrounding the murder case. The murder case sparked the rise of the African-Americans civil rights movement, and Emmett was regarded as a martyr.