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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.”

Campbell agrees.

“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.”

Comment on this Story

  • WhiskeyRocks

    Cash Michaels is despicable. A caricature. A ridiculous simpleton.

  • LocalHistoryBuff

    I commend Cash Michaels’ efforts to document the story of the Wilmington 10. Wilmington has a history of inhumane treatment of its black citizens, and the stories need to be told and retold through diverse media–print, radio, film, theater.

    However, this two-hour film is too long and is in desperate need of editing. I suggest Mr. Michaels submit “Wilmington Ten: Pardons of Innocence” to an experienced, competent film editor.

    A good editor could trim almost an hour of superfluous footage. This would make the film more compelling.

  • Amused

    The true story (a world premier, no less), courageously produced by a reporter from a local black community paper, backed by the Black Press (a consortium of local black community papers that pressured a really inept outgoing Dem Governor into signing a pardon), and shown once at a university’s local campus (a school that’s so extremely politically correct, they’ve banned the term of “freshman” at their main campus because it’s sexist).

    But wait, you get even more with your “world premier”: You get even more “true” when the wife of one of the 10 links them to that old standby, the 1898 race riots (one would think they were a little too young for that).

    “They’ll better understand the way Wilmington works.”, she said. By “works”, I’m guessing that also means that all of the shootings and the drug busts in Creekwood are explained away as someone else’s fault as well.

  • Jim Capps

    Hate I missed that. Really would have liked to have seen the background of a group of individuals who tried to bring about change to their community by setting it on fire and shooting at the arriving firemen and police officers. I wonder if they showed any interviews of people who lost their hard earned lively hoods and business futures. Or better yet talked of how they got an outbound, soon to be investigated Governor to scribble a signature on a bogus pardon. Maybe they will have a rerun….we can only hope.

  • Guest2020

    How about “Wilmington 10:Pardoned by an Idiot Governor” or “Wilmington 10: We Aren’t Innocent, We Got Off on a Technicality”? Those would be more appropriate titles.

  • Beach Bum

    The Wilmington 10 = Domestic Terrorist.


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