WILMINGTON JOURNAL EDITORIAL
W-ed - WE’LL GET IT DONE, CONNIE
It is truly sad, indeed, that Connie Tindall, 62, will be laid to rest tomorrow, never seeing what he wanted more than anything else - having his name cleared by the state of North Carolina for crimes he did not commit as a member of the Wilmington Ten.
As he told The Journal last May, right before the legal petition asking Governor Beverly Perdue to grant individual pardons of innocence to all ten of the falsely convicted activists had been filed, knowing that one day, no matter how long it took, he and the rest of the ten would be vindicated, is what kept him alive behind prison walls for almost five years.
The one request Connie made in that interview was, “Don’t let it be too late.”
He wanted to live to see the pardons.
Connie wanted to live to see his name cleared.
He couldn’t get his life back, and the rich dreams he had as a New Hanover County high school football champion of one day playing on Sunday afternoons in the NFL.
But the effort mounted by the National Newspaper Publishers Association through its Wilmington Journal spearheaded “Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project,” brought real hope to Connie Tindall that finally, he just might hear, see, feel and smell his long awaited justice.
Folk were filing papers and printing petitions and having press conferences and holding rallies and writing national stories and producing videos and creating websites and talking about the Wilmington Ten on radio talk shows and on and on and on.
The effort to gain those pardons of innocence, and clear the names of Anne Shepard, William Joe Wright, Jerry Jacobs, Wayne Moore, Marvin “Chili” Patrick, James “Bun” McKoy, Willie Earl Vereen, Reginald Epps, Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr…. and, of course, Connie Tindall, was real, and it was building up steam.
Young people who had never heard of the Wilmington Ten, were being drawn to the movement to clear their names, just like young people were over thirty years ago to free the Ten from prison.
Stories in both newspapers and on television stations worldwide were once again reporting how the federal appellate court in 1980 overturned the Wilmington Ten convictions because of prosecutorial misconduct, and witnesses for the state who were lying through their collective teeth.
Over 200 supporters in Wilmington - black and white - rallied around the Ten at Stephen’s A.M.E. Church last June chanting, “Pardon the Wilmington Ten.”
Connie Tindall took to the podium that night, and humbly thanked everyone for their hard work and good wishes.
Connie knew this could work. He knew that a pardon of innocence was in his grasp.
His smile that could light up a room, and laugh that could definitely fill it, would be on constant display.
But there was also a constant boiling, just under the surface, that spoken to 40 years of unmitigated anger at a state and criminal justice system that Connie firmly believed wanted to destroy him, just because he, like so many other courageous black students over 40 years ago, who stood up for an equal opportunity for a good education, dared to challenge the power structure.
“They wanted to destroy me,” Connie said in his last newspaper interview. “But I wouldn’t let them!”
He wouldn’t, and he didn’t.
Indeed, it was Connie’s intention to live long enough to see his day of vindication.
But GOD apparently had other plans.
A week ago, Connie Tindall died unexpectedly. But in his death, came greater awareness of the Wilmington Ten Pardons cause.
Since last Friday, almost a hundred more people went online to sign the pardon petition. Over 200 have watched a special tribute video to Connie on YouTube, deeply moved by seeing and hearing his last public statements.
In death, Connie Tindall is inspiring the world to learn more about the Wilmington Ten, and stand up strong for their justice.
In death, Connie’s spirit has made us all seeking that justice, to recommit ourselves to the cause, and redouble our efforts.
So, we will never forget our brother, nor the courage he always displayed. Connie will not get his day of vindication on Earth, but he will rejoice in Heaven, and smile bright for all to see.
We make this promise, dear Bro. Connie…we’ll get it done.
Your pardon of innocence…we’ll get it done.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
US ARMY CPL. DARRION HICKS, 21, BURIED WITH HONORS
He was a 2009 Broughton High School graduate who loved his community, and joined the US Army to serve his nation. And that’s what Cpl. Darrion Hicks, a vehicle mounted mine operator, was doing, when his young life was stopped by a roadside bomb that detonated in Afghanistan on July 19. Cpl. Hicks was laid to rest in Raleigh National Cemetery on August 1, his mother, Tracy Hicks, receiving the flag that draped her son’s coffin.
WAKE MAKES GOOD ACADEMIC GAINS IN HIGH POVERTY SCHOOLS
All four Renaissance schools in Wake County, plus Walnut Creek Elementary School, all saw significant gains in academic achievement per the end of grade test results. Barwell Road Elementary, one of the Renaissance Schools supported per a federal Race to the Top grant, saw a 9.7 percent rise in its passing rate to 74.1 percent. ED students throughout the system did better. Wake graduation rate did drop, however, from 80.9 to 80.8 percent.
RALEIGH FIFTH GREENEST CITY IN THE NATION
When it comes to being an eco-friendly city, count Raleigh as fifth in the nation, says the service website, Thumbtack. Cities that provide energy efficient services such as solar heating, bike repairs, electronics recycling and chemical-free cleaning products, ae listed. San Francisco rate number one, followed Oakland, San Jose and Las Vegas, then Raleigh.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
WHITE SUPREMACIST WITH NC TIES KILLS SIX AT SIKH TEMPLE
[OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN] An avowed white supremacist who once served six years in the US Army at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, allegedly stormed a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, firing his weapon, killing six people, including an 84-year-old woman. The gunman, identified as Wade Michael Page, 40, was fatally gunned down by a police officer after he repeatedly shot another officer, who is in critical condition. Page reportedly performed in several racist skinhead bands in North Carolina, and he also foresaw a race war, authorities say.
GOP LAWMAKER CALLS PLANNED PARENTHOOD “MURDER FOR HIRE”
[CONCORD] At least one North Carolina lawmaker has made it very clear that he’ll never support Planned Parenthood. State Rep. Larry Pittman [R-Cabarrus County] reportedly wrote in a May 24 email that the family planning group is “murder for hire,” and thus, he would never vote to fund it. "Never will I agree to give that bloody, indecent, immoral organization one penny. I will not be satisfied until it is outlawed.” Pittman, who objects to Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, is a member of the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.
OFFICIALS HAIL NC 80 PERCENT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE
[CHARLOTTE] The 80.2 percent graduation rate for North Carolina high school students must have really been good, because everyone from the old General Assembly to the new General Assembly wants to take credit for it. The state’s grad rate has consistently risen by nearly 12 points in the past six years. Gov. Perdue called the progress, “ A great way forward for North Carolina.” However, despite claims by Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis that cutting funding has “helped” school districts make better choices, others say the cuts to public education could stop the progress.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Saw a picture on Facebook of a long line of folks outside of Chick-fil-a last week responding to the same-sex marriage controversy. The caption read, “Imagine a world where Christians lined up to feed the hungry, instead of themselves, as a symbol of their religion.”
On point, for sure. The anger and energy it took for these “Christians” to support the owner of this chicken sandwich company after his anti-same sex marriage remarks, could have been better used to actually feed a few helpless people. Yes, they are entitled to their beliefs, just as the other side is. I would have been more impressed if they bought those sandwiches, and then took them to a homeless shelter. Now THAT would have been saying something. Otherwise, all that Chick-fil-a lineup was was a cheap stunt.
One that doesn’t qualify for any biblical blessing
GOODBYE, CONNIE - On Friday, the Wilmington community comes together to say goodbye to a passionate warrior who, for the past 40 years, endured the cruelty and indignities of living falsely accused of serious crimes he never committed.
Connie L. Tindall, one of the Wilmington Ten, died last week, reportedly due to complications from a blood clot.
He was 62.
I didn’t know Mr. Tindall long. I met him last April, as coordinator of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, when surviving members of the Ten, and the families of the deceased members, came together to discuss the pending petition for individual pardons of innocence that would soon be submitted to the Governor’s Office.
I could tell that he was a man of good humor and a straight talker. Mr. Tindall loved to laugh, and was someone who would make his own party.
But I could also tell that he was a man constantly boiling inside, the fury and struggle of the past forty years always present. The indignity of being falsely tried, convicted and imprisoned for something he did not do, was like a cloud that was always with Connie Tindall.
And understandably so.
When he and I finally had a chance to sit and interview, I saw evidence of it first hand, as Connie went through a range of emotions as he traveled back through his memories of being a high school football star; spokesman for the protesting black students; and finally arrested and convicted, just because he stood up for what he believed in.
And Connie was resolute about being “vindicated” by being proven innocent. It was something he was dearly waiting for, something he knew in his heart would happen.
His last words during our interview were, “Don’t let it be too late,” a message to Gov. Perdue not to wait to long to grant pardons of innocence for him, and the other surviving members of the Wilmington Ten.
So there is great sadness among those of us who knew Connie Tindall, cared about him, and even loved the guy. He will not see that day. He will not see his name cleared by the state of North Carolina.
He will not know what it truly feels like again, to be free.
Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to the family of Connie L. Tindall.
We thank those of you who responded to news of his death by watching the tribute video the Pardon Project produced at http://youtu.be/W5oH3Y9DHqc. And please, if you haven’t, go to the Change.Org petition page setup to support the pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten at https://www.change.org/petitions/nc-governor-bev-perdue-pardon-the-wilmington-ten.
MARS, “SMARS” - I am proud that our nation’s space program successfully landed the “Curiosity” space rover on Mars. It was a great achievement, and speaks to our technological capabilities, and national will.
But I am saddened that in the midst of this great accomplishment, we can’t find the decency, know-how, and yes, national will to wipe out poverty in our land. It can be done. We can do it.
But do we want to?
I had a little debate about this on Facebook with someone who will remain nameless. His take was that in order to address poverty, we would have to change our capitalistic system.
I think, given that we have the talent and know-how to land on Mars, we could indeed address poverty in our nation in a way where folks can still make money, but just not off of poor people’s misery, as we have it now.
He didn’t think we could do that, and insisted that our people living in poverty didn’t have it so bad compared to the poor in other countries.
That’s like saying a wife being beaten in a mansion is better off than the wife being beaten in the ‘hood. What’s the real difference if both are being abused?
That tells me that as a nation, we give lip service to doing something about poverty, but we really have no intention that anything meaningful be done. And that’s both a crime AND a sin, in my opinion.
How we treat the least of us, is how GOD will judge us in the end, my Bible tells me.
If we saw it as in our best interest a nation, we would do something about poverty.
Well, it is. When do we start?
FIRST LADY ROCKS - Last week, courtesy of the Obama campaign, I got to ride in First Lady Michelle Obama’s motorcade from RDU International Airport, and watch as Raleigh police officers on motorcycles shut down I-40 as we cruised into the Capital City. What was even more cool was watching Michelle Obama surprise the campaign staff at the 130 Morgan Street headquarters. She took the time to speak, and hug, and laugh with each one of them.
Like I’ve said before, I don’t know what’s going to happen in November, but Michelle Obama will go down in history as one of the great First Ladies of all time.
GABBY’S TIME - The story of Gabby Douglas, US women’s gymnastics Olympic gold medalist and our newest star, is now legend. This 16-year-old black teenager is a miracle to see in action, and she carries herself with dignity, poise and so much joy.
And let’s not leave out her mother and coach, father serving his country in Afghanistan, and surrogate family in Iowa. All of them contributed in powerful ways to make this young lady an Olympic legend.
So why are some people hatin’ on Gabby.
Fox News doesn’t think she’s patriotic enough, even though Douglas has plenty of red-white and blue pictures, and even appears on the newest Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box, for goodness sakes. How American can you get?
And there are trash organizations like TMZ that have dug up Gabby’s mother’s financial records, making her answer questions about her struggles as a single mother.
And then there are some of us, yes US, black folks, who couldn’t let the child win a gold medal for her country without raggin’ about her hair.
There was nothing wrong with Gabby’s hair, and given what I’ve seen in black hairstyles for women lately, Gabby’s was a cut above for sure. And yet, that crabs-in-a-barrel mentality the just governs some people had to come out online, throwing water on what should have been a great moment of collective pride for our nation and community.
It was a disgrace, and many of us who know better had no problem beating back the morons.
So let this be a lesson, Gabby. You’re a star now, but with that comes a lot of baggage. You and your family are going to have to learn how to deal with this, and it’s already proving to be beyond easy.
Just keep GOD close everyday, homegirl! All of us (at least those with some sense) are proud of you!
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.
FIRST LADY'S SURPRISE RALEIGH VISIT - First Lady Michelle Obama gives a big hug to an Obama campaign coordinator during a surprise visit to the Morgan Street headquarters last week. The workers greeted her with cheers, and thanked her for taking the time to say "Thank you" to them. The Democratic National Convention comes to Charlotte Sept. 3rd [Cash Michaels Photo]
NCNAACP HOLDS TRUTH AND HOPE
POVERTY SUMMIT SATURDAY
By Cash Michaels
It has been over seven months since the first buses rolled in the Truth and Hope Putting a Face on Poverty Tour Through North Carolina last January. Led by the NC NAACP, a coalition of progressive nonprofit groups traveled over 2000 miles, on four tours, to 27 cities; towns and counties across the state, listening to hundreds of North Carolinians tell their heartfelt stories of struggle and survival.
Now that the fact-finding is over, organizers say, it is time to find solutions, solutions the politicians, clergy and business community can embrace.
That’s the mission when activists, social workers, elected officials and others gather this Saturday in Rocky Mount for the Truth and Hope Poverty Tour Summit.
Sponsored by the NC NAACP, the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, the NC Justice Center, the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at NCCU, and the AARP of NC, the summit is planned to explore, “…through personal testimonies, a compelling original film documentary, newly assembled economic data, and frank community discourse – the scourge of poverty, amidst plenty, in the Tar Heel State,”
Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP; and Prof. Gene Nichol, director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity said in an open letter earlier this week.
“The truth is, government and the private sector have not adequately addressed the historical and structural causes of deep poverty,” Barber and Nichol continued. “Long before the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession, hundreds of thousands of God’s children of all colors lived on the edge” of survival. Recent economic storms “have made this structural” injustice even worse. The tour, we argued, “would not solve the problem, but will expose it, force us to see the faces, the people, and the real conditions behind the (appalling) statistics ... and move us to (undertake) the hard, necessary and righteous work of addressing it.”
Rev. Barber and Prof. Nichol went on, “Having traveled over two thousand miles, visited 27 communities, and met with thousands of vocal and energized North Carolinians, we can attest that the challenge of pervasive and debilitating poverty is the greatest wound, the largest transgression, the most potent public policy test that we face as a people. It violates both our foundational constitutional commitments and our defining and civilizing religious commands. Its injustices are visited most heavily, as has been the case for generations, on persons of color – with African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans suffering poverty and unemployment rates dramatically higher than their white counterparts. And our poorest are, too frequently, our children – the youngest and most vulnerable among us. If we are to be the people we claim, we must move to address the stunning, betraying plague of poverty. And we must address it now.”
“The Truth and Hope Poverty Tour Summit will explore our challenges, our priorities and our possibilities. It will further a movement – launched and pressed forward by the NC NAACP and a massive HK on J coalition – to put North Carolina poverty center stage in our political deliberation.”
The Truth & Hope Poverty Tour Report, Mass Meeting and Summit is on Saturday, August 11 in Rocky Mount, NC at Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), 402 E. Virginia Street, Rocky Mount, NC 27801. Registration begins at 8:30 am; the program begins at 9:30 am and ends at 3:00 pm.
FUNERAL FOR CONNIE TINDALL, WILMINGTON TEN MEMBER, FRIDAY
By Cash Michaels
[WILMINGTON, NC] Last May, just before papers were filed with the NC Governor’s Office petitioning for pardons of innocence, Connie Tindall was defiant.
The former Wilmington high school football champion - who had dreams in his youth of playing pro for the NFL one day - felt that the state of North Carolina owed him for destroying that dream with its false prosecution and imprisonment of him as a member of the Wilmington Ten.
After four decades of being denied, Tindall declared that now is the time to right the wrong.
“Don’t let it be too late for the rest,” Tindall said, noting that he was among the seven surviving Wilmington Ten members left.
“Don’t let it be too late for the rest.”
But last Friday, August 3, it indeed became “too late” for Connie Tindall. After having minor surgery for a blood clot several weeks ago, Tindall, who was recovering at home, reportedly suffered unforeseen complications, and died.
He was 62.
The news came as a shock to Tindall’s family, friends, and members of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project (a special effort of the National Newspaper Publishers Association), which has been working hard to build national support for individual pardons of innocence to Tindall, and the other nine civil rights activists.
Led by Rev. Benjamin Chavis, the nine African-American males - ages 17 - 24 - and one white female, 34, were falsely convicted of conspiracy 40 years ago in the February 1971 firebombing of a white-owned grocery store, amid heightened racial tensions about school desegregation in Wilmington, NC.
The Wilmington Ten were sentenced to a total 282 years in prison, and served some of that time until Amnesty International; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; the US Justice Dept., and fifty-five members of Congress, all investigated, declaring the convictions were fraudulent.
All three of the state’s prosecution witnesses recanted their testimony, revealing that they had been paid to lie. And in December 1980, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled to overturn all ten convictions.
But the state of North Carolina refused to follow the federal courts, and to this day, has not cleared the names of Connie Tindall, Anne Shepard, Jerry Jacobs, William Joe Wright - all of whom have deceased - James “Bun” McKoy. Marvin Patrick, Reginald Epps, Willie Earl Vereen, Wayne Moore and Dr. Benjamin Chavis.
The whole ordeal took its toll on Tindall and the rest of the ten. Their futures shattered, many found themselves rejected and ostracized by the very community they fought for.
In that exclusive interview with the Wilmington Journal last May, Tindall said he made it through the four-and-a-half years in prison he spent by knowing that one day he would be “vindicated” and proven innocent of the trumped up charges.
“It’s the scar that doesn’t show, but you’ve got to wear it,” Tindall said about how he has lived day-to-day ever since leaving prison over 30 years ago. “But I don’t wear it with my head hung down. I wear it with my head held high, because everything [that happened] was meant to destroy me. But here I am…looking at you…laughing!”
The federal courts indeed deemed Connie Tindall innocent; but now that he’s gone, he’ll never see the day that his home state clears his name.
In reaction to Tindall’s death, one Wilmington Ten member said he believe that Tindall, “died way too soon from poverty and deprivation, brought on by the stigma and psychological burden he carried for years after being tried and convicted for crimes he never committed.”
Another Wilmington Ten member, Reginald Epps, said, “He will be missed.”
Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and strong supporter of the Pardons of Innocence Project, paid tribute to Tindall, saying, “In Latin, the name “Connie” means steadfast. As our brother not only lived out his name, but let us do likewise as we fight for truth and justice.”
Attorney Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, and co-chair of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, said he was “deeply distressed” by Connie Tindall’s passing.
“He was always so strong and on point with everything. He was a joy to be around, and had a great sense of humor, even though he was passionate about the plight of the Wilmington Ten,” attorney Joyner said, joining others in sending prayers and thoughts to the Tindall family.
“Long live the spirit and memory of Connie Tindall,” Dr. Benjamin Chavis said in reaction. “God bless the Tindall family. Rest in Peace, Connie.”
Funeral services for Connie Tindall will be conducted Friday, August 10, starting at 12 noon at Union Missionary Baptist Church, 2711 Princess Place Drive in Wilmington.
A wake for family, friends and supporters has been scheduled for this this evening, August 9, from 6 - 8 p.m. at Davis Funeral Home, 901 S. Fifth Ave. in Wilmington.
Tindall had no life insurance. Because he was falsely convicted of a felony 40 years ago, getting insurance would be prohibitive at best, and more expensive than standard rates.
The community, led by Mary Alice Thatch, publisher of The Wilmington Journal, is doing what it can to ensure a proper burial. A contribution fund has been setup to help with the costs of the service and burial.
The family asks that checks be made out to THE CONNIE TINDALL FUND, c/o FIRST CITIZENS BANK, P.O. BOX 1619 WILMINGTON, NC, 28402. Contributions to the fund can be dropped off at any First Citizens Bank branch.