WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Port City hosted a world premier Saturday.
UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium hosted a screening of the documentary “Wilmington Ten: Pardons of Innocence.”
The two-hour film produced by Wilmington Journal reporter Cash Michaels documents the history behind Wilmington’s infamous civil rights-era prosecution.
Pictures, articles and interviews tell the story of the ten people accused and convicted of firebombing a Wilmington grocery store in 1971.
Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Cloves Campbell says the idea for the film was sparked around 2011. Wilmington 10 member Benjamin Chavis spoke to the NNPA about the issues and injustices surrounding the case. Campbell says that’s when the NNPA decided to jump on-board with the documentary.
“We felt it was something we should be a part of as the NNPA Black Press of America,” he said. “So we started our campaign.”
Their outreach effort proved successful after Gov. Bev Perdue issued an official pardon Dec. 31, 2012.
Prominent members of the black community and of the Wlmington 10 joined hundreds at the screening hoping this will serve as a tool in educating the youth.
“It’ll probably impact the students,” said Gail Vereen, wife of Wilmington 10 member Willie Vereen. “When it gets to the students they’ll better understand the history of the Wilmington 10 and of (the) 1898 (race riots in Wilmington). They’ll better understand the way Wilmington works.”
“Young people really don’t understand a lot of the sacrifices that went on, and they take a lot of things for granted,” Campbell said. “I think it’s important that you learn about the history and understand that what you have, that wasn’t always the way it was.”
The message seemed to resonate with at least one young person at the premier. During the question and answer session she became emotional saying, “People need to see this.”