Interview with William Bradford Huie


William Bradford Huie:

Milam did most of the talking. Now remember he's older. Milam was about 35 or 6 then. Bryant is his half brother. And uh, much younger than, than and of course, you see uh, Milam was a first lieutenant in the US Army Reserve at that time. And so, uh, Milam was a little more articulate than, than Bryant was. But now Bryant did some talking particularly when they talked about what they were told had happened in the store. Uh, and uh, Bryant did enough talking. But J.W. did the killing. J.W. killed, fired the shot that killed—-uh, when they took him, when they took him down on the river and killed him. Um, now, as I have written, they did not intend to kill him when they went and got him. And uh, they, they killed him because he boasted of having a white girl and showed them the picture of a white girl in Chicago. And there's not any reason to think—-they had him in the car around and trying to scare him and that sort of thing for about three hours. And then, finally when young Till—-he never realized the danger he was in. He never knew. I'm quite sure that he never thought these two men would kill him. And um, or maybe he's just in such a strange environment, he doesn't—-he really just doesn't know what he's up against. And it seems to a rational mind today, it seems impossible that they could have killed him. But, J.W. Milam looked up at me and said, "Well, when he told me about this white girl he had, he says, "My friend, that's what this war's about down here now." He says, "That's what we got to fight to protect." And he says, "I just looked at him and I said, boy you ain't ever going to see the sun come up again." And I said, "Well, you just took him." He said, "We went and we got the gin fan and we, we made him load the gin fan. And we," and he says, "I took him down there," and he said, "He didn't believe I was going to kill him." But he says, "Just about a minute when we got down to the side of the river," he said uh, "I pulled out my .45," God, you could hit—you could knock a lizard's head off with forty feet with that darn thing, and he said uh, "I fi—-I told him to drop his clothes off," which he did and he said, "Just about then he knew I was going to kill him or he thought I might." And he said uh—-you know he said the papers said he was shot over the eye, he said, "I would have hit him right between the eyes. Instead he turned his head just a little bit just before I fired." Well, sitting there, me and I—-now here's, is perhaps the awful thing about it. With Milam sitting there, you say well, did I jump up and denounce him? No, I didn't. You see because I'm not—-I don't represent the law, and I don't represent the morals. And I don't try to lead anybody to Christ, or anything of that sort. I'm a reporter when I go there. I didn't—-it wasn't my position to punish him or do anything else. It was my position to establish the truth, which I had done. Now, it is true that John Whitten and I are both representing what may be called the best in the South meaning we'd had the best opportunities of any white people in the South. Uh, neither one of us said one word to him when he told us that. Neither one of us said, "Well, you shouldn't have done that." Neither one of us said that because first I didn't consider that my role. Later, there was a-—on Friday whenever they came in, gosh isn't that little woman one of the prettiest black-eyed Irish woman I ever saw in my life. She had on a little dress she had made herself. Her mama brought her in and Bryant brought her in on a Friday night to sign the papers. I had a young lawyer from New York that Look had sent down and they had prepared the papers. The finest libel lawyer in publishing was Look's lawyer and he had prepared the papers. And, and he


Cut. Run out, 22. Ok, this is Sound Roll 13, Camera Roll 23, Blackside, Speed.