Earlier by Steve Sailer (2022): Emmett Till Headline News: Blacks Want 88-Year-Old White Woman Prosecuted For Being Sexually Harassed
The murder of Emmett Till in August 1955 is back in the news again. Till’s cousin, Priscilla Sterling, has filed a federal lawsuit to force a local sheriff to arrest 88-year-old Carolyn Bryant Donham on an unserved arrest warrant from 1955 in connection with 14-year-old’s murder [Lawsuit seeks white woman’s arrest in Emmett Till kidnapping, Associated Press, February 10, 2023]. Written by Emily Wagster Pettus—an interesting byline given the “civil rights march” led by Martin Luther King over Selma, Alabama’s Edmund Pettus bridge—the story alleges that Donham (née Bryant, which how she is best known) lied when she said Till assaulted her, which led to his murder.
But for me, the more interesting question in Till’s story is whether his predatory behavior, which was not just a “wolf whistle,” was substantially predictable because he inherited psychopathic traits from his rapist-murderer father. The answer: Yes.
VDARE.com readers are familiar with the story, particularly given the Regime Media’s media continuing obsession with it. Last summer, theaters showed the critically acclaimed movie Till, which was, of course, a travesty. But Hollywood can’t let truth stand in the way of a story that demonizes white Southerners.
The myth-based movie depicts Till, nicknamed “Bobo” and the only child of Chicago war-widow Mamie Bradley, on a holiday visit to cousins in Money, Mississippi, in August 1955. Unused to the Jim Crow South, Till has little understanding of how to behave in public.
One afternoon, Till and his cousins go to Bryant’s store. Till goes in to buy some candy and is served by Bryant, a 21-year-old mother, who is alone in the store. Her sister-in-law is out back with the children. Till flirts with Bryant, telling her how beautiful she is. He shows her a photograph of a white movie star he carries in his wallet, telling Bryant that she resembles her. One of Till’s cousins goes into the store to retrieve him, seemingly concerned that he is not behaving herself. Bryant then emerges from the store. Till wolf-whistles. The atmosphere suddenly chills as all the blacks, except Till, realize the seriousness of his imprudent, dangerous transgression of the “Southern Code.” Bryant makes an angry beeline for her brother-in-law’s truck (it was actually a car), knowing that her husband’s gun is under the seat. The cousins, and the other blacks playing checkers in front of the store, assume that she’s getting a gun and flee in panic.
Four days later, Bryant’s husband Roy, his half-brother J.W. Milam, and two black farmhands turn up in the middle of the night at the home of Till’s great uncle, Moses “Preacher” Wright. They abduct Till, who irritates them even more by not addressing them as “sir,” and take him 30 miles away to a barn in Drew. Off camera, they beat him, shoot him, and dump his body in the Tallahatchie River. The men are tried for Till’s murder and found not guilty by an all-white, all-male jury.
The movie ends with Till’s mother, Mamie, speaking at an NAACP rally, then imagining herself singing happily with Till. An epilogue explains that Carolyn Bryant was not prosecuted, and that her husband and Milam sold their confessional story to Look magazine for $4,000 [The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi, by William Bradford Huie, Look, January 24, 1956]. Double jeopardy protected them from a second prosecution.
Till boasted about having a white girlfriend, Huie reported later in his book Wolf Whistle and Other Stories, and his friends goaded him into approaching Bryant. That would explain why a cousin went in to retrieve Till, concerned about what was happening. But that’s not in the movie.
When Bryant testified at trial, Huie observed, the judge sent the jury out of the courtroom because he considered her testimony irrelevant. She finished her testimony in the jury’s absence for the record. She told the court that Till grabbed her hand and she had to force herself free. He then approached her and grabbed her hips, and said, “what’s the matter, baby? Can’t you take it? You needn’t be afraid of me. I’ve been with white women before” [What Did Carolyn Bryant Say And When, by Jerry Mitchell, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, August 24, 2018].
Bryant repeated that story almost verbatim in a memoir leaked last year, I Am More Than Just a Wolf Whistle, which she dictated in 2008 [EXCLUSIVE: Carolyn Bryant Donham’s Unpublished Memoir Surfaces: ‘I Always Felt Like A Victim,’ by Stacey Patton, New One, July 14, 2022]. It was supposed to have been published after her death. The memoir changes the movie’s “been with” to “f***ed.”
To be fair to the movie, it includes Bryant’s testimony. Yet while the movie has her say, quite accurately, that Till entered the store “after dark,” it is clearly light in the movie’s depiction of the infamous “wolf whistle,” a subtle and devious way of implying that Bryant lied.
Why would she go to the car to get her gun, as she testified? The reasonable answer: She felt seriously threatened, which is precisely what she testified and, again, wrote in her memoir: “Never before, nor since, have I been that afraid.” Preacher testified that Till, though 14, was extremely muscular and “looked like a man,” as Huie wrote. (He is not depicted this way in the movie.)
So that’s the broad outline of the Till case. If Bryant’s testimony and her account in the memoir is true, they raise a question: Would we have reason to suspect that Till might have assaulted her?
The answer is “Yes.” The heritability of psychopathic traits is high. For “fearless dominance,” it is 0.42, which means 42 percent of the variance for this trait is genetic. For impulsive antisocial behavior, heritability is 0.51, and for externalizing aggression it is 0.7 [Psychopathic personality traits: heritability and genetic overlap with internalizing and externalizing psychopathology, by Daniel Blonigen et al., Psychological Medicine, May 2005].
This is very important. At the time in which the movie was set, it was widely reported that Emmett Till’s a father, a “war hero” as the movie calls him, Louis, was actually executed in Italy in 1945 for raping two women and murdering another.
Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, recalls this is in her own memoir [Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America, by Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson, 2004].
She claimed that many innocent black GIs were executed during the war for having sexual affairs with white married women, who rescued their marriages by claiming they were raped. She implied that this may have been true of her estranged husband. Emmett knew in 1955 that his father was not a “war hero.” Mamie told Emmett about a vague military telegram that said his father was guilty of “wilful misconduct.”
But amateur boxer Louis Till’s pre-war character and behavior, which included brutal domestic abuse, was also entirely in line with his being capable of rape and murder. After a trivial disagreement with Mamie—Louis didn’t want her to eat her mother’s vegetables because he was jealous of her mother’s cooking—”the next thing I knew he had pounced on me,” Mamie recalled:
I didn’t know what to do at that moment, but I knew I was no match for Louis Till. I found myself on the floor with Louis choking me, squeezing my neck as I coughed up the greens, squeezing harder and harder until I just blacked out.
Louis easily could have killed her. When she came round, Louis had gone out. Mamie waited for him in the dark with a pot of boiling water and doused him upon his return. Louis then ran to Mamie’s mother’s house: “Mamma told me she had to peel that shirt off his back, pulling pieces of skin off in the process.”
Mamie sought a restraining order on Louis, but he kept violating it, so the judge gave Louis a choice of jail or the U.S. Army, which he joined in 1943.
On July 2, 1945, he was at the end of a hangman’s rope for the rapes and murder.
“The suggestion was clear,” Mamie recalled thinking of Till’s crimes. “Like father, like son.” Given the high heritability of psychopathic traits, this is quite a reasonable suggestion.
Mamie’s book hints at other relevant factors. Emmett was a breech birth, a risk factor for later antisocial behavior and psychopathology due to brain damage [Prenatal and perinatal influences on risk for psychopathology in childhood and adolescence, by Nicholas Allen et al., Development and Psychopathology, Summer 1998].
As well, witnesses couldn’t believe Emmett Till’s fearlessness as the white men took him away. His cousins recall having to monitor him at all times, even when in a store, which implies that he did not know how to behave or, more likely, did know and didn’t care. Mamie had given him “The Talk,” emphasizing that he must abide by the segregationist code of the time. Till willfully ignored this, even failing to address his abductors as “sir” in what would have been seen as a serious act of “disrespect.”
In their confessional interview in Look, the two killers claimed that even as they beat him, Till showed no fear and simply provoked them more: “I’m not afraid of you. I’m as good as you are. My grandmother was a white woman!”
It might be true that Bryant exaggerated what happened and is less than entirely reliable. For example, she has denied being in the cab of the truck that took Till away, but witnesses recall that she was there. Her claim is likely an attempt to avoid kidnapping charges [Here’s the proof against Carolyn Bryant Donham in the Emmett Till case. Is it enough to convict her?, by Jerry Mitchell, Boston Globe, July 14, 2022]. In August 2022, after the 1955 warrant for her arrest was found, a grand jury refused to indict her [Grand jury declines to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman whose accusations led to the murder of Emmett Till, by Chuck Johnston, CNN, August 10, 2022].
Yet Bryant has never changed the core details of her story. Her original statement to the police claims merely that Till “insulted” her, but, according to one historian, “insulted” was a euphemism for “rape or attempted rape” [Death in the Queen City: Clara Ford on Trial, 1895, by Patrick Brode, 2005, p.70]. She could have embellished her story to induce her notoriously temperamental husband’s jealousy and/or sympathy. There is no evidence for this, but oddly enough, they were filmed kissing passionately—unlike Roy Bryant’s half-brother Milam and his wife—after the trial in which the two men were acquitted.
In 2007, Bryant allegedly told a leftist writer that she had made up her allegations against Till. However, a witness to this tape-recorded interview, Bryant’s daughter-in-law, said that Bryant “never recanted” and no recantation was on the tapes. The writer said he was setting up the recorder when she spilled the beans and took only handwritten notes [Bombshell quote missing from Emmett Till tape. So did Carolyn Bryant Donham really recant?, by Jerry Mitchell, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, August 21, 2018].
We will never know with certainty everything that occurred the evening of August 28, August 1955. But based on the strong likelihood that Emmett Till inherited his father’s psychopathy—to say nothing of the Regime Media’s determination to suppress the elder Till’s record—Bryant’s account is far more credible than the claim that Till was kidnapped, beaten, and murdered merely for wolf-whistling at a white woman.
Lance Welton [email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.