WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Rev. William Barber, president of the NC State Conference of the NAACP, will be the keynote speaker during the first Faith Community Rally in Support of Pardons of Innocence for The Wilmington 10 tomorrow. The rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. at St. Stephen's AME Church at 501 Red Cross Street in Wilmington.
The Faith Community Rally, which will also feature members of the Wilmington Ten, is cosponsored by the Wilmington 10 Pardons of Innocence Project Local Advisory Committee and the New Hanover County NAACP, in association with the national Wilmington 10 Pardons of Innocence Project. It is the latest in a long series of planned events to build local and national support to secure individual pardons of innocence for the Wilmington 10 this year.
The Wilmington 10 were a group of youths sent to prison in the 1970s after a grocery store burned during a 1971 race riot. The seven survivors and relatives of three dead members filed petitions for pardons last month with Gov. Bev Perdue's office.
Wilmington 10 leader Benjamin Chavis and nine others were freed when a federal appeals court overturned their convictions in 1980. Chavis later became executive director of the NAACP. He says North Carolina's politics and history 40 years after their convictions make this the right time to seek pardons.