Late last week, an online outfit called Urban Twist, ran a post that asserted that MS Governor Phil Bryant’s uncle was the person that murdered Emmett Till in the article titled Is Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, The Nephew Of Emmet (sic) Till’s Murderer?
In the article, author Melony Hill basically makes the assertion that the man that killed Emmett Till was named Roy Bryant, which is true. However, she makes the leap that somehow, that’s Phil Bryant’s mother’s brother (which would make Phil Bryant’s mother named Estelle Bryant Bryant, which it is not).
Here is her logic about how she partially deduced something was amiss . . .
Watching for Governor Bryant to refute the claims and say that his mother was a different Estelle Bryant. Digging to see if I could find any concrete proof other than a much-shared tweet. While I watched and waited for Governor Bryant to make a public statement, I took note and screen shots at some of the messages he was receiving and ignoring on social media. It has been at least three days that people and constituents have been asking online if Bryant indeed in the nephew of Roy Bryant. Governor Bryant is silent on the issue.
Bo Jackson and Michael Jackson both have the same last name, but it doesn’t mean they’re related. So now not refuting something on Facebook comments apparently makes it true. Or something.
Now, don’t let the title of the article fool you. Even though she misspelled Emmett Till (bless her heart) a dozen times, that really shouldn’t distract you in the slightest. The author Melony “Sapphire” Hill has an extensive writing resume that includes bylines at respected news/erotic publications such as NFlava Magazine, Badd Magazine and Beauty Flow Magazine.
So, what I’m about to do is give you a breakdown of both fake news and journalistic laziness.
Dollar dollar bills, y’all.
Now here’s the twist. The genesis for this “revelation” came from a quote in a USA Today story William Tomer did about a DC protest regarding the confederate flag. In the article, a woman named Edelia Carthan, who works at Tougaloo College was quoted in the story.
“I’m the cousin of Emmett Till,” said Edelia Carthan, 37. “It was Phil Bryant’s uncle (Roy Bryant) that admitted to murdering Emmett Till. So I’m not surprised by the governor’s reaction to all this because of his family history. It is in his blood.”
That quote is still out there. Now you’d think that a reporter from USA Today, owned by Gannett (that also owns the Clarion Ledger), would have stopped and said, “Wait a minute, ma’am. Are you saying that that the Mississippi Governor’s blood relative is connected to one of the major atrocities of the Civil Rights era?” That just seems to be pretty major factual assertion that a reporter would have picked up on and at the very least questioned a little further. But to publish that without even fact checking it is pretty much journalistic malpractice – even for a USA Today reporter.
Having seen the Urban Twist article which quoted the (you guessed it) USA Today article, I reached out to Ms. Carthan. When asked about whether there was a connection between Phil Bryant and Roy Bryant, she said, “I can’t say I know that for a fact. I’ve been researching trying to prove the relationship.” She then went on to say, “I initially read in online somewhere that Carolyn Bryant was Phil Bryant aunt. That’s when I begin to research. Phil Bryant is from Moorehead, MS, same area as the Bryants’ that own Bryant Groceries in Money, MS. Phil is not is legal first name. Roy Byrant sister is his mother. I bet you they are hiding this….”
When people cringe about “fake news”, it usually has some basis in the fact that some real news is either lazy or unprincipled. Something stupid gets said and never refuted and then before you know it, people are trying to cash in on it between their side gigs of writing erotic fiction stories and finding the next Internet sensation.
Nothing I’ve written here should take away from the simple fact that the person or people that were responsible for murdering Emmett Till should rot in a thousand hells. But making unsubstantiated and damning allegations, unfortunately in the digital age needs to get called out. And it’s important to get the real facts out there so that goofy notions such as the ones Melony “Sapphire” Hill put forth are forever put to rest.