Sunday, March 30, 2014



By Cash Michaels

            FINALLY! – Well, as of this Saturday, the wait will be over. For the last time, here’s the press release (just to make sure I don’t leave anything out):
            The world premiere of the controversial documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” on Saturday, April 5th at UNC – Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium, features four exclusive interviews that, for the first time, help tell the complete story of the Wilmington Ten.

-       Governor Beverly Perdue, who tells how powerful people across the state tried to stop her from granting pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten.
-       Joseph McNeil of the Greensboro Four, and Williston Senior High School in Wilmington, who tells why black students had to stand up for freedom during the 1960’s and 70’s.
-       Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the leader of the Wilmington Ten, relives the events that led to that racially violent week in Wilmington  February, 1971
-       Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, recalling how he and other clergy came to Raleigh in 1977and met with then Gov. James Hunt to implore him to pardon the Wilmington Ten.

“Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” produced by the National Newspaper Publishers Association and CashWorks HD Productions, recounts the history surrounding the troubled desegregation of New Hanover County Public schools during the late 1960s through 1971, and the incidents that evolved into the false prosecution of eight black male students, a white female community organizer, and fiery civil rights activist, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, for protesting racial injustice.
The documentary also traces how the Black Press, led initially by Wilmington Journal publisher Thomas C. Jervay, Sr., and over 40 years later by his daughter, publisher-editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch through the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), ultimately pushed for, and achieved the official exoneration of the Wilmington Ten in 2012 by North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue.
The premiere will be dedicated to the commemoration of the 46th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was killed on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn. Dr. King’s assassination is important to the story of the Wilmington Ten because, as the documentary shows, the civil rights leader was supposed to be in Wilmington at a voter registration rally on the day he was killed. Dr. King’s death also ignited a series of events that ultimately led to the Wilmington Ten case.
The film makes its world premiere Saturday, April 5th, 9:30 a.m. at UNC – Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium. IT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Doors open at 9 a.m. Seating is limited.
The documentary is set for release on DVD for public schools - grades 9 through 12 (with online study guide), colleges and universities, and the general public, later this year.
Later that evening, a benefit gala banquet honoring former Gov. Beverly Perdue and NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber will be held at the Hilton – Riverside Hotel. Gov. Perdue made the historic decision to grant pardons of innocence to the ten falsely convicted activists. Rev. Barber is being honored for helping to lead the 2012 campaign to clear the Wilmington Ten’s names.
Our special guest will be NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri Beasley.
Proceeds from the gala dinner will benefit the RS and TC Jervay Foundation, Inc., a 501 C (3) nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and research related to the history of Africans Americans in Southeastern North Carolina. Thus far, four scholarships have been awarded to students attending historically black colleges and universities.
For ticket information call Shawn Thatch at 910-762-5502
So all roads lead to Wilmington this Saturday. All of us at The Wilmington Journal, The Carolinian in Raleigh, the National Newspaper Publishers Association and CashWorks HD Productions have worked awfully hard for many, many months to make this come true, and we can’t wait to share these exciting events with you.
IS THE BLACK PRESS STILL VIABLE? – That’s the question being bandied about ion recent articles about the state of black newspapers. Some articles say most of our young people have no idea there’s even a black newspaper in their town. To add insult to injury, one writer says he even polled black journalism students, and few of them were attuned to the fact that black newspapers were alive and reporting.
I won’t argue that the Black Press has to find new ways to attract young people to our pages. The stories and issues we cover essentially affect them and their future, so the earlier we bring them aboard and make them loyal readers, the better.
But at the time, I think the Wilmington Ten case proves that the Black Press, at least here in North Carolina, is alive and still fighting for our community. We find it funny that some folks don’t even know that there’s a black newspaper in town …until they get into trouble and need a staunch advocate. Or folks don’t know there’s a black newspaper in town until we write about them or something they did.
And certainly folks seem not to know there’s a black newspaper in town until it’s election time, and they need as much free press as possible, not willing to spend the kind of money they will literally throw at other media outlets.
That, despite the proven fact that people who read black newspapers regularly are more likely to vote than anyone else.
The fact of the matter is black newspapers are struggling, yes, we won’t deny that. But that doesn’t mean our commitment to serving our community is any less. True, we might not have the resources that larger media outlets have, or have as large a staff. But who else can you call on the drop of a dime to advocate for you and yours in your community. Who else can you call to stand up to the powers that be when you know you’ve been done wrong?
And who else will make sure that the community knows your story, and get you the help you need when crisis hits?
They say, “You never miss your water until the well runs dry.” Well, that should never happen with your black newspaper. Don’t wait until it’s too late to support those who fight every week to support you! Make sure the businesses you go to are advertising in this black newspaper. Make sure you and your friends have subscriptions. Make sure the groups, fraternities and sororities you’re affiliated with have subscriptions, and support the Black Press.
Come see “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” and see for yourself how black newspapers across this country, led by The Wilmington Journal, fought hard to finally bring justice to where it was needed the most.
After you see this movie this Saturday, you’ll know the true power of the Black Press, and realize that our community can’t lose this vital organ of progress and empowerment.
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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” ( 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.
And coming on April 5, 2014, the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions documentary presentation of, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

RWCA "LIVING LEGENDS" HONORED - Saturday at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh, the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association honored its "Living Legends" for 2014 at a gala banquet. From left to right, the honorees include Rev. Marion Robinson; Everett Ward; State Sen. Daniel T. Blue; RWCA officer Sonia Barnes; honoree Mrs. Mary E. Perry; honoree Wallace Green; RWCA Pres. Rev. Earl Johnson; honoree Dr. Leroy Darke; honoree Bill McNeal; honoree Rev. J. Vincent Terry and RWCA Vice Pres. Michael Leach [photo courtesy of RWCA]


            [GREENSBORO] President Obama has federal disaster relief to providing cleanup funding for NC counties in the aftermath of the massive ice storm March 6-7. The counties affected include Alamance, Guilford, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Granville, Orange, Person, and Randolph. Crews with the NC Dept. Of Transportation have already started moving downed trees and other debris from some of the affected counties.

            NCNAACP President Rev. William Barber has made it clear that he is no fan of Republican policies of late, so it comes as no surprise that GOP candidates for the NC General Assembly and Congress are using Rev. Barber in their campaign advertising as an example of what they call North Carolina’s “broken politics.” Bruce VonCannon, one of nine Republicans running for the Sixth Congressional District, is doing just that in his ads, further calling Barber’s massive demonstrations “foolishness.” Barber is also being featured in campaign ads by Rep. Andy Wells of Hickory, who is running for a state Senate seat.

            [WILMINGTON] It comes as a surprise to some, but according to the US Census, the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area – which includes Pender County – is the second fastest growing metropolitan area in the state behind Raleigh. Between July 2012 and July 2013, over 5,000 new residents settled in New Hanover County and Pender County combined. That’s a two percent growth rate. The Wilmington MSA population lists at more than 260,000 people, officials say.



        Attorneys representing the Wake County Board of Education filed 316 motions in Wake County Superior and District Court this morning to recover more than one million dollars in criminal bond forfeitures that are owed to the school system. The motions came after a joint investigation by the Wake County Clerk’s Office, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, and the State Bureau of Investigation.  The investigation revealed that at least two former clerks and several bondsmen allegedly engaged in a scheme that resulted in bondsmen avoiding their obligation to pay bond forfeitures when criminal defendants failed to appear in court. 

            The mother of a Southeast Raleigh Magnet School student wants the Raleigh Police Dept. to explain why one of its officers falsely accused her son of stealing a cellphone, threatening to arrest him. It was ultimately determined that the boy, Cameron Jones, 15, was indeed innocent, but his mother, Chantel Jones, wants to know why she was never contacted when police engaged Cameron. Thus far the principal and assistant principals have apologized, but Raleigh police have refused to do so, telling Ms. Jones that she should file a complaint instead.

            Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Republican District Court Judge Ned Mangum to serve out the unexpired remainder of former Wake District Attorney C. Colin Willoughby term. Willoughby, who served for over 25 years, announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election, and would leave by the end of March. Judge Mangum will serve as acting D.A. until a new one is elected in the fall. The May primaries will see four Republicans and two Democrats vie for the post.

By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            Editor’s note – This Saturday, the NNPA – CashWorks HD Production documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” makes it premiere at UNC – Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium. Doors open at 9 a.m., and the screening begins at 9:30 a.m.. The event is free and open to the public.
            The occasion will also commemorate the forty-sixth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tenn. on April 4th, 1968. Few today realize the deep connection between Dr. King’s death, and the eventual turmoil in Wilmington that eventually led to case of the Wilmington Ten.

            Forty-six years ago this week, on April 4th, 1968, an assassin’s bullet rang out in Memphis, Tennessee, and the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was violently taken.
            News of Dr. King’s death shocked the nation and the world. But in Wilmington, the tragic news was even more profound.
            Dr. King was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and his local chapter president, Dr. Hubert A. Eaton, had invited Dr. King to come to Wilmington to take part in a countywide voter registration rally at Wilmington’s Williston Senior High School, the heralded all – black high school in the port city that was the pride of the African-American community.
            The date of that planned rally – April 4th, 1968.
            It was because of growing tensions in the Memphis garbage men’s strike that Dr. King decided, just two days before, to stay there longer than originally planned, a decision that ultimately cost him his life. He had called Eaton days earlier, informing him of his sudden change of plans.
            Had Dr. King been in Wilmington on April 4th, no one knows what would have happened. The man charged with killing Dr. King, James Earl Ray, is known to have been tracking the civil rights leader from city to city, apparently looking for the opportunity to pull the trigger.
            Would Ray have tracked Dr. King to Wilmington, and make his assassination attempt then?
            No one will ever know.
            What is known, though, is that prior to Dr. King cancelling his appearance, members of Wilmington’s then white power structure has put out word that “troublemaker” and “outsider” was absolutely not welcomed.
            “Over the past several weeks I have received several calls from local white citizens who called anonymously to say that if Dr. King came to Wilmington, he would be killed,” Dr. Eaton told a local newspaper then.
            “The hate and prejudice which permeates the hearts and minds of so many members of the white society made it possible for Dr. King to be unsafe in practically every city in America.”
            That was par for the course across the South everywhere Dr. King went, and became publicly involved in local disputes or led demonstrations.
            Wilmington, once the shining beacon of black political and economic power in North Carolina until the infamous 1898 race massacre by Democratic Party white supremacists, was now a small Southern port city in 1968 where white powerbrokers worked diligently to hold all of the reins of influence and control for the expressed purpose of keeping its black population submissive and depressed.
            An appearance by a nationally known civil rights leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would only hurt their cause, and wake up the sleeping giant that was Wilmington’s black community.
            As it turns out, King didn’t have to come to Wilmington at all for that to happen. When news of his assassination at the hands of a white man spread, violence erupted in urban centers across the nation…including Wilmington.
            In deep anguish that white America had taken their King, black youth took to the streets, rioting, looting and setting fires.
            “Rioting, looting, burning and sporadic sniper fire continued into the second day in Wilmington Sunday leaving sections of the city in shambles,” began the story, “City Under Guard; Violence Worsens” in the April 8th edition of the Wilmington Morning Star newspaper.
            The National Guard was called out to quell the violence in black sections, a curfew was imposed, and the school system was closed.  City officials called on leaders in the black community – especially those who had graduated from Williston Senior High School – to call for calm.
            But psychologically, a page had been turned. The murder of Dr. King at the hands of white America was a wound that ran deep in the hearts of many black young people. To see a proven man of peace taken from them in such fashion was too much to bare.
            “I was a worshipper of Dr. King,” says Benjamin Wonce, recalling in the documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” how he was just 15-years-old and attending junior high school in Wilmington at the time of King’s death.
            “[Dr. King’s death] pierced me,” Wonce continued. “He was our champion. As far as I saw, there was one guy out there standing up to all of the powers that be.”
            Wonce wasn’t alone in his reverence for Dr. King.
            When the Principal John Scott of predominantly white New Hanover High School refused to lower the school’s American flag in honor of Dr. King’s memory, black students at Williston High, angry and frustrated at what they perceived to be a deliberate slight, organized to march over to New Hanover High to confront the principal. Staff at Williston, including librarian Bertha Todd, realizing that bloody violence could break out, stopped the black students, saying, among other things, that Dr. King would not approve.
            “I could tell their feelings, could feel their tension, could feel their frustration,” Ms. Todd said in “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.” “It was all that we could do to see if we could contain them.”
            But the student’s racial anger was even more compounded two months later when the New Hanover County Board of Education, under pressure from a lawsuit from Dr. Eaton, and directives from the federal government and a federal judge to immediate desegregate its public school system, voted to unceremoniously “discontinue” beloved Williston Senior High School – changing it instead to a junior high school -  and transfer its over 900 black students to predominately-white New Hanover High School, and the just opened John T. Hoggard High School.
            The banners, championship trophies, the treasured memorabilia of a black high school which nurtured its students to be “better than the best”…all trashed  by a predominately-white school board which demonstrated a frightful carelessness to the feelings and wishes of Williston High’s alums and supporters.
            “It was, it was like losing a relative,” Ben Wonce said. “I don’t remember crying, but I remember the emptiness that I felt …[because] they shut it down, and tell us we have to go to the white schools.”
            “[Williston] is still…the greatest school under the sun,” a tearful Rev. Kojo Nantambu, whose parents and siblings attended Williston, said in the documentary.
            “It meant a lot to black people to go to Williston. It was a center of pride.”
            In a span of just two months in 1968, black youth in Wilmington lost a black leader whom they loved, and their black high school which they cherished – both falling victim to the white power structure. For the next three years, those same students, who were once taught to be scholars, leaders and championship athletes, were treated everyday as nobodies.
            Black students were the targets of racism from teachers, administrators, and even fellow students. There were fights almost every day, and threats. Black students weren’t allowed the same level of participation in school events at New Hanover and Hoggard as they had at Williston High.
            Not only were black students denied being allowed to learn about their own history, but the school board denied their request to officially commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday.
            In January, 1971, embattled black students in the New Hanover County Public School System – now having become militant after three years of extraordinary struggle – decided to fight back by boycotting the schools.
            Though they had embraced the militant attitudes of Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and other so-called “radical” leaders in the African-American community, the students still held dear to Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolent confrontation to bring about needed change not only in the New Hanover public schools, but in Wilmington as well.
            In February 1971, after boycotting students took refuge in Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ, they were further schooled in the philosophy of nonviolence by Rev. Benjamin Chavis, a UCC community organizer sent to help guide them.
            “This was 1971…just three years after Dr. King’s assassination,” Rev. Chavis says in “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.” “People needed to be revitalized. People needed to be inspired. People needed to be uplifted.”
            “What amazed me about Wilmington was that this was a movement of young people,” Rev. Chavis continued, recalling how workshops on nonviolence and nonviolent civil disobedience were taught to the students. They were angry, but Chavis taught them, in the spirit of Dr. King – whom Chavis had worked with as a young activist – how to channel that anger into an effective vehicle to challenge racism and injustice.
            Chavis and the students then put lessons to practice by marching through Wilmington’s downtown demanding justice, thrusting their fists in the air as proof of their determination and solidarity.
            “And no question about it…I was a militant, a nonviolent militant. Martin Luther King Jr. was militant, but he was a nonviolent militant. That’s what the movement is about…organizing people to stand up and speak out,” Chavis says.
            As a result of their bold demands for an end to racial discriminatory treatment in their schools, though, the black students became the targets of further violence, as white supremacists attacked the church with gunfire, and threats to blowup the building. By week’s end, despite their adherence to Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy, violence engulfed the boycotters, especially with the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store; and shooting deaths of Stephen Mitchell, one of boycotters; and Harvey Cumber, a white man who allegedly pointed a gun at the church, only to be fatally shot himself by someone unknown.
            It would be a year later that prosecutors would falsely target Rev. Chavis, another community activist Anne Sheppard, and eight of the black student boycotters, putting them on trial as the Wilmington Ten.


Special to The Carolinian

Last week, U.S. Federal Magistrate J. Elizabeth Peake declared North Carolina lawmakers could not assert blanket legislative privilege to conceal their communications and motives for passing thwta some are saying is the most discriminatory and regressive voter suppression laws in the country. The North Carolina NAACP State Conference, who is represented by lawyers with the national civil rights group Advancement Project; veteran NC attorney Irving Joyner and others, issued the following statement in response:
“We are pleased a federal magistrate declared that North Carolina legislators must come clean and turn over communications about the voter suppression law they passed in 2013 which stands to keep millions of seniors, students and people of color from the polls,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP State Conference and architect of the Forward Together Movement. “The North Carolina legislature passed the most sweeping and discriminatory voter suppression bill in the country, then sought to hide their hands and skirt the scrutiny of the law. While they spent the last year championing a measure that will make it harder for North Carolinians to cast a ballot, they have employed one desperate tactic after another to thwart accountability. You cannot engage in passing laws that undermine the rights of people and then claim immunity from detailing the reason and rationale of your actions. We have said all along these actions must be examined in the light of the constitution and in the light of full disclosure.”
“In ruling in our favor, U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Peake concluded, ‘while the judicially-created doctrine of ‘legislative immunity’ provides individual legislators with absolute immunity from liability for their legislative acts, that immunity does not preclude all discovery in the context of this case; instead, claims of legislative immunity or privilege in the discovery context must be evaluated under a flexible approach that considers the need for the information in the context of the particular suit presented, while still protecting legislative sovereignty and minimizing any direct intrusion into the legislative process,’ ” Advancement Project Senior Attorney Denise Lieberman said in citing information from the court order.
“The decision from Magistrate Peake is a refreshing break from the practice of elected officials attempting to hide their reasons for enacting legislation,” said Attorney Irving Joyner. “The decision recognizes that the law cannot and does not allow legislators to enact repressive legislation and hide those acts from the public. In reality, this order from the court means that North Carolina's legislators can run from their oppressive votes, but they cannot hide from the discovery their reasons for passing the law in the first place."
“The Court found that in situations where laws are being challenged under the Voting Rights Act, where Congress deliberately put legislative intent at issue, lawmakers do not have blanket legislative privilege or immunity,” Lieberman added. “Rather the Court adopts the approach Advancement Project lawyers suggested -- that there is no blanket legislative privilege and the State must assert individually and specifically any privilege that they contend exists with respect to specific discovery requests.” 

FORMER MAYOR CANNON FACES INDICTMENT - Exactly when a federal grand jury is scheduled to convene  to consider indictments in the alleged corruption case of former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon is now unclear. Cannon, seen here being sworn-in last December with his wife and family, was arrested last week by FBI agents and charged with accepting bribes. He resigned his office and hired Charlotte defense attorney James Ferguson, who has waived a preliminary hearing. Legal experts say Cannon has the opportunity now to make a deal with federal prosecutors if he's able to expose other illegal dealmakers. Meanwhile the Charlotte City Council will wait until April 7 to select a new mayor to fill out the rest of Cannon's term.[Photo courtesy of Charlotte City Government]

Thursday, March 27, 2014



Special to The Carolinian

The North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus has announced a series of statewide town hall meetings and symposiums addressing the growing rate of poverty in the state.

“2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the War on Poverty. The poverty gap continues to widen and we thought this would be a good time to refocus our attention on the thousands of North Carolinians who are the working poor,” said Representative Garland Pierce, Chairman, NCLBC. We will launch a series of Town Hall meetings with several community partners to advance the message of the poverty gap and educate them on why it is getting wider and what we can do collectively to close that gap,” said Pierce.

According to recently published reports, the poverty gap continues to widen, “North Carolina has eighteen percent, 1.7 million living in poverty. Twenty percent have no health care coverage. We have the 12-highest poverty rate in the country – though only a decade ago we were 26th. The top one-fifth of our households capture more income than the bottom 80 percent put together. Over a half-million of our households, participate in the food stamp program. In Robeson County, that included 33 percent of families, the third-highest figure in the nation in counties over 65,000.”

"North Carolina citizens have been working in their communities and have similar ideas about how you solve poverty.  They want to connect education and economic opportunities, to close poverty gaps at the community level," said Senator Earline Parmon, Vice Chair, NCLBC.

The first Town Hall Meeting was earlier today in Durham at St Joseph’s AME Church.

The Caucus is also being hosted in Winston-Salem by The Renaissance Men of Winston-Salem State University and Delta Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc on Friday, April 4 from 1-3pm at Dillard Auditorium in the Anderson Center on the Campus of Winston-Salem, State University. “April 4 has the significance of being the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assignation during his visit to Memphis, Tennessee in support of striking Sanitation workers,” said Pierce.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014



CHARLOTTE MAYOR RESIGNS AFTER ARREST - Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, seen here taking the oath of office last November, resigned from office Wednesday after he was arrested by federal authorities on corruption charges after a four-year investigation. The US Attorney's Office says Cannon was charged with theft and bribery, with undercover FBI agents allegedly inducing him with $48,000 in cash and gifts. Cannon allegedly took his last bribe in February in the Mayor's Office. Cannon, a Democrat, had served as a city councilman before being elected mayor five months ago.

By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            Editor’s Note – On April 5, the National Newspaper Publishers Association – CashWorks HD Productions documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” will premiere at UNC – Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium, commemorating the April 4th, 1968 46th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 9 a.m., screening begins at 9:30 a.m.
            In honor of that event, The Carolinian and The Wilmington Journal newspapesr will publish stories leading up to the premiere dealing with important aspects of the Wilmington Ten story not dealt with in the film.

            When ten separate petitions for pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten came before Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2012, some of her closest advisors, in addition to many of North Carolina’s most prominent members of the state’s legal and political communities, strongly urged her not to grant them.
            The civil rights activists, led by the fiery black activist Rev. Benjamin Chavis, were tried, convicted and sentenced in 1972 for the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery Store and accompanying sniper fire on police and fire fighters the year prior. All of them spent time in prison, and all of them had been denied pardons in 1978 by then-Gov. Jim Hunt.
            But even though the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions in December 1980, based on findings of prosecutorial misconduct, the state refused to either retry the Ten, or drop the charges. So all of them, though out of prison, languished in a legal quagmire for over 30 years that destroyed their lives.
            None of the governors during that span of time dared to touch the case, believing that in the minds of most North Carolinians, the Wilmington Ten would remain guilty.
            But Gov. Perdue was different. Even though she was a tough law-and-order liberal who had only granted one pardon out of hundreds submitted to her each year of her four-year tenure, she considered the Wilmington Ten case special, because at its core was a microcosm of North Carolina’s racial and political history.
            It was already known, thanks to the 1980 US Fourth Circuit ruling, that Wilmington Ten prosecutor Jay Stroud had not only paid state witnesses to commit perjury, and had hidden damning information about his chief witness’ questionable mental capacity from the defense, but that all of the state’s witnesses years later admitted in court that they were induced to lie during the 1972 trial.
            But that wasn’t enough, apparently, to declare the Wilmington Ten innocent.
            It would take more to permanently shut the door of any doubt, and convince Gov. Perdue, who had her legacy in office to consider after announcing that she would not run for re-election in 2012, to grant pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten.
            Little did Perdue, or anyone else realize, that the “more” she needed had been waiting in a closet at the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office for the past 40 years.
            It was 2008 when NHC D.A. Ben David’s staff found a box labeled “Wilmington Ten – Do not open” in a storage area. Intrigued, David checked to see if there was any pending or active proceedings involving any of the defendants. When nothing turned up, David says he decided to turn custody of the box over to Duke University historian Prof. Tim Tyson.
            Tyson, the son of civil rights minister Rev. Vernon Tyson, had grown up in Wilmington, and had written extensively on North Carolina black history. He was planning to write a book on the Wilmington Ten, and had worked in concert with Ben David on special black history classes at Williston Junior High School.
            David gave the box to Tyson for research, but Tyson didn’t immediately examine it. However, when an aide did, and reported back what the contents were, Tyson was astounded.
            Among the standard legal documents common to any criminal case, were notes written by NHC prosecutor James “Jay” Stroud, notes that suggested not only that he tried desperately to impanel a jury for the first June 1972 trial that consisted of “KKK” whites and “Uncle Tom” blacks, but also worked hard to prevent black men from becoming jurors, and any blacks who read The Wilmington Journal, the black newspaper which had advocated for the Wilmington Ten.
            Stroud’s notes of “KKK…good” next to certain names, and warning at the top of one legal pad jury selection page to “Stay away from black men” betrayed a clear intent to racially gerrymander the jury.
            But when the final jury impaneled consisted of ten blacks and two whites, it was Stroud’s notes on that back of that legal pad, considering the “disadvantages” and “advantages” of causing a mistrial, that left no doubt that Stroud then plotted to obstruct justice by stopping the June 1972 trial, and start over again.
            That’s exactly what happened when Stroud claimed to have become sick, causing the judge to declare a mistrial. When the second trial commenced in September 1972, Stroud got his wish – ten whites and two blacks were impaneled, and the Wilmington Ten were all convicted based on false testimony, and no evidence.
            Tyson knew what he had was explosive, and had begun to continue his research for a book that was sure to be impactful. But in 2011, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, at the urging of Wilmington Journal publisher Mary Alice Thatch, voted to pursue pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten.
            Many people had assumed that the overturning of the convictions by the federal appeals court in 1980 ended the matter, not realizing that the Wilmington Ten, even forty years after the fact, were still subject to arrest and trial because the charges were never dropped.
            They were all still felons in the eyes of North Carolina law, and only one person on the face of the Earth, Gov. Beverly Perdue, could clear their names forever.
            Only after the Wilmington Ten Pardons Project was formed in 2012, and Prof. Tyson was called on just to help with general research into the case, did he unexpectedly reveal the existence of the Stroud files box, and their explosive contents to the project.
            After a quick review of sample pages, it was decided by project attorney Irving Joyner, who was part of the original Wilmington Ten defense team
40 years prior, to recruit the Ten’s lead defense attorney Jim Ferguson, and thoroughly research the entire contents of the Stroud files box, cross referencing them with the criminal files at the Pender County Courthouse, where the trails had taken place in 1972.
            After the pardons petition was filed in May 2012, Joyner and Ferguson continued their research through that summer, finally releasing their findings of confirmation that September.
            NNPA newspapers, led by the Wilmington Journal, broke the story of the Stroud files then, but it wouldn’t be until November, with the leadership of the NC NAACP and its president, Rev. William Barber, that the statewide and national press picked up on the importance of the Stroud files.
            The resulting publicity from even the New York Times created an avalanche of support for the Wilmington Ten to be pardoned, and on Dec. 31st, 2012, Gov. Perdue, citing the Stroud files as evidence of “naked racism” in North Carolina’s criminal justice system that should never happen again, granted pardons of innocence to Wayne Moore, Reginald Epps, Ann Sheppard, Willie Earl Vereen, William Joe Wright, Jerry Jacobs, Connie Tindall, James “Bun” McKoy, Marvin “Chili” Patrick and Rev. Benjamin Chavis.
            “Contrary to what I saw as the right thing, I had a group of advisers; close friends; jurists that I brought in from across the state; lawyers, because I’m not a lawyer; and other professionals, who told me absolutely not to do this. That I couldn’t prove that the Wilmington Ten were innocent. I couldn’t prove that,” Gov. Perdue says during an exclusive in the film, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
            “[But] I could prove that the DA [Stroud] had lied. I could prove that there was racial profiling in how they selected the jury. I could prove that three of the witnesses recanted their testimony. I could prove all of that, so I just thought to myself, what do I believe is right.”   
            There can be no question now, over a year later, that if not for the discovery of the Stroud files, and the wisdom of both NHC DA Ben David and Duke Prof. Tim Tyson in preserving them, the Wilmington Ten might never have seen justice.
By Cash Michaels

            ‘THE GOOD WIFE” SHOCKER – I must hand it to the folks who produce the CBS drama ‘The Good Wife” on Sunday nights. Week after week, the writers of this great program come up with legal and personal plotlines that both fascinate and intrigue. If you’re into television production, there is a lot you can learn from how ‘The Good Wife” is put together.
            But Sunday night’s episode is something folks are still talking about and watching online – the tragic death of lead character Will Gardner.
            I honestly don’t feel like going through what “The Good Wife” is about here, but fans who watch the show know what I’m talking about. Gardner’s death was a shocker, so now the question is, how are the writers going to handle the aftermath? There are seven more episodes left in this season, setting up the sixth season in the fall.
            The producers promise change. Let’s see if they can deliver.
APRIL 5TH – Mark your calendars if you haven’t already. The World Premiere of the NNPA – CashWorks HD Productions documentary “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, April 5th, at UNC – Wilmington, 9:30 a.m. in Kenan Auditorium.
            It will be free and open to the public, but seating will be limited.
            Following the film, there will be a panel discussion on the current state of civil rights, and the continuing need for the Black Press.
            Later that evening, there will be a gala banquet the Hilton Riverside honoring former Gov. Beverly Perdue, and NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber. Tickets and tables are available.
            For more information about tickets, tables and advertising, call Shawn Thatch at the Wilmington Journal at 910-762-5502.
            GOD willing and the creek don’t rise, you’ll finally get a chance to see what I believe will be an important historical film. More details to come.
            MORE DIVERSITY ON TV – I don’t think there’s much doubt that we’re seeing more and more diversity on television of late, with shows like “Sleepy Hollow” and “The Walking Dead” leading the way with black, Hispanic and Asian-American cast members in nontraditional roles.
            And the ratings for these shows are bad at all either.
            We hope that success of these shows spawn more similar programs in the coming years. One of the reasons why we’re seeing so many now is because many of the producers attended diverse schools, so portraying diversity of the screen – complete with interracial dating, is something that isn’t foreign to them at all.
            That means the tremendous civil rights efforts of the 1960’s and 70’s are paying off in at least some of our media.
            Here’s hoping that we indeed see more of it, and that these programs are as good, if not better than what we’re seeing today.
            NEW SHOWS COMING – With the 2013-14 TV season winding down with season finales in April and May, the networks are ready to release their new fall scheduled in a few weeks. Many of those shows have diverse casts.
            But are these shows any good, and who’s starring in them?
            Comic star Craig Robinson and actor Larenz Tate star in “Mr. Robinson,” an NBC comedy about a musician who becomes a middle school teacher.
            Tim Meadows, formerly of “Saturday Night Live,” costars in “Marry Me,” an NBC comedy pilot about an engaged couple. Meadows plays one of the gay dads.
            Over at Fox, there’s buzz about the new crime show “Gotham,” about Gotham City before Batman arrived. Jada Pinkett Smith reportedly portrays a gangster in the show.
            Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez is producing and starring in her own NBC dramatic series in 2015 titled “Shades of Blue.” Haven’t got the faintest idea what it’s about, but NBC is obviously banking on Lopez bringing her “American Idol” audience with her. We’ll see.
            Courtney B. Vance, who played NY prosecutor Carver on the old “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” now gets to portray a military doctor in an ABC pilot, “Warriors.”
            Now here’s a real black show, the title of which is “Black-ish.” It stars Anthony Anderson of “Law and Order” fame, Tracee Ellis Ross from the old sitcom “Girlfriends,” and actor Lawrence Fishburne. The show is about a middle-class black family who tries to raise their children with a sense of black cultural awareness. It’s a pilot for ABC, and Fishburne is producing, so lets see where it goes.
            Even after winning an Academy Award for her great performance in “The Help,” apparently other movie roles are few and far between for actress Octavia Spencer, so she’s looking towards television. Enter “Red Band Society,” a medical drama on Fox about a pediatrics nurse who watches over a group of teenagers living in a hospital.
            Dennis Haysbert is still doing those Allstate commercials, but he also has time to costar in a Fox pilot titled “Backstrom”  about a Serious Crimes investigative unit, which Haysbert portraying a detective.
            Another pilot for Fox has talented actress Megan Good teaming up with Skeet Ulrich in “Babylon Fields” about the dead returning to their lives. Good plays a doctor, while Ulrich portrays a priest, and his twin brother.
            Earlier this week, we saw a preview of the latest incarnation of the popular NCIS franchise on CBS in “NCIS: New Orleans.” The show stars Scott Bakula, actress CCH Pounder, and Lucas Black.
            Probably the most interesting TV pilot is for Fox reteaming “Hustle and Flow” actors Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson (“Person of Interest”). The show, called “Empire,” is about a  music impresario who leads a hip-hop music record label, whose drug -dealing ex-wife gets out of prison, and makes life hard for him. This I’ve got to see.
            Actress Rosie Perez stars in an ABC comedy called “An American Education,” about a British teacher teaching in San Diego.
            And finally, Academy Award nominated actress Viola Davis is starring in a Shonda “Scandal”, “Grey’s Anatomy” show titled “How to Get Away with Murder. Davis plays a criminal defense professor.
            So these are some of the shows under consideration. Let’s see how many actually make it to air.
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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” ( 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.
And coming in April 5, 2014, the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions documentary presentation of, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

By Cash Michaels

            The good news is when it comes to workplace harassment and racial, sexual or religious discrimination, North Carolina is improving.
            But the bad news is the Tar Heel state ranks sixth in the United States for the number of total workplace complaints (Texas, Florida, California, Georgia and Illinois are the top five), which means it still has a long way to go.
            According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the federal agency tasked to both monitor complaints and enforce anti-discrimination laws – in 2013, the last year that data was gathered, North Carolina had 4,453 total harassment/discrimination charges (4.8 percent of the total national number), down six percent from 2012.
            In the past five years since 2009, 2010 logged in the highest number of statewide EEOC complaints at 5,219, while the 2013 numbers are the lowest.
            Still, broken down by race, sex, national origin and other categories, North Carolina’s EEOC complaints paint a troubling picture of workplace bias.
            There were 1,748 harassment/discrimination complaints based on race in North Carolina in 2013, or 39.3 percent of total state charges, .1 percent more than in 2012, even though the actual number of complaints in 2012 was higher at 1,874.
            There were also 80 EEOC charges on discrimination based on color in 2013 (down .5 percent); 1,278 based on sex (down .3 percent); 355 per national origin (down .6 percent); 190 discrimination charges based on religion (up .5 percent); 1252 per disability (up a whopping 3 percent); 37 alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act (down .2 percent), and 849 based on age discrimination (up .1 percent).
            Because federal law does not protect sexual orientation, there is no record of gay employees filing EEOC complaints based on any harassment or discrimination, though experts says it certainly happens.
            In many cases, aggrieved employees are punished for filing EEOC charges. In fact, employer retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint in North Carolina is 42.4 percent, the highest it’s been since 2009, when it was 33.3 percent.
            According to Jimmy Lin, vice president of Product Management and Corporate Development at The Network, a Georgia-based research company specializing in integrated governance, risk and compliance solutions, retaliation isn’t always easy to prove.
            Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in legally protected activity,” Lin says. “Retaliation can include any negative job action, such as demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift reassignment, but retaliation can also be more subtle.”
            “Sometimes it's clear that an employer's action is negative -- for instance, when an employee is fired. But sometimes it's not. In those cases, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, you must consider the circumstances of the situation. For example, a change in job shift may not be objectionable to a lot of employees, but it could be very detrimental to a parent with young children and a less flexible schedule.”
            EEOC also accepts harassment/discrimination complaints based on genetic information. In North Carolina in 2013, there were 17 complaints based on Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).
            Under Title II of GINA, it is illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information,” Lin says. “The law forbids discrimination on the basis of genetic information when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, or any other term or condition of employment. An employer may never use genetic information to make an employment decision because genetic information is not relevant to an individual's current ability to work.”
Lin continued, “Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual’s family members (i.e. family medical history). Family medical history is included in the definition of genetic information because it is often used to determine whether someone has an increased risk of getting a disease, disorder, or condition in the future.”
 “Genetic information also includes an individual's request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or the participation in clinical research that includes genetic services by the individual or a family member of the individual, and the genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or by a pregnant woman who is a family member of the individual and the genetic information of any embryo legally held by the individual or family member using an assisted reproductive technology,” Lin says.
Because the percentage of EEOC charges in North Carolina has dropped since 2009, Lin maintains, the message of equal treatment in the workplace is getting through to employers.
            Businesses are putting more time and thought into their employee training programs to ensure employees understand what harassment and discrimination is and what they should do if an incident occurs. Instilling strong ethics in employees from day one is crucial in establishing an ethical workplace that’s free of harassment and discrimination,” Lin says.
            Preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace needs to start with a solid code of conduct and anti-harassment policy that includes step-by-step instructions on what to do if an employee learns of violations to that policy,” The Network’s Jimmy Lin continued. “Employees should be educated as to what counts as discrimination and/or harassment and how to appropriately respond to these situations should they arise in the workplace. Managers also need to know how to deal with these issues and when to escalate them.”
            “Incidents are often buried by middle managers who do not respond properly or by the time issues escalate, are afraid to get additional help from above. Training methods also need to be brought up-to-date. A comprehensive workplace harassment training program needs to include periodic education as well as follow-up awareness learning and ongoing awareness communications – it can’t be viewed as a “once and done” exercise.”


Special to The Carolinian

ROCKY MOUNT - To further understand and document instances of voter suppression and inequities in electoral administration, the North Carolina NAACP, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and other coalition partners will organize a National Commission on Voting Rights fact-finding hearing on Friday, March 28 in Rocky Mount, NC. Advocates for simplified, unfettered voting, community leaders, voters, scholars and NAACP members from across the state will testify about voter discrimination and election administration issues in North Carolina.

"There is no better to time to take a serious look at North Carolina's voting rights record - nine months after the Supreme Court gutted Section V of the Voting Rights Act and seven months after extremists in North Carolina passed the worst voter suppression bill we have seen since Jim Crow," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the NC NAACP and the National Legislative and Political Action Chair of the NAACP. "Here in North Carolina, we are the canaries in the coal mine of a nationwide rollback of voting rights. This voter suppression law hurts African Americans and all people of color. It makes it more difficult for the elderly, the disabled, poor white people, young people and working women to vote. This week's hearing will make a powerful case for restoring full voting rights and protections in North Carolina." 

The Advancement Project, which has successfully represented the NAACP and other community groups in Pennsylvania to strike down an unconstitutional voter ID law similar to the one extremists pushed through the legislature here last year, will participate. The ACLU of North Carolina, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Blueprint North Carolina and Democracy North Carolina are also co-organizers. Attorney Kim Keenan, the general counsel for the National NAACP, was instrumental in organizing this partnership between the NC NAACP and the Lawyers' Committee.

The hearing is slated to run from 9 am to 5:30 pm on Friday, March 28 at the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) at 402 East Virginia St., Rocky Mount, NC. At 9 am, Dr. Barber will open the hearing by officially welcoming the former legislators and legal experts from North Carolina and around the country who will serve as commissioners. Barbara Arnwine, the president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee and a renowned civil rights advocate, will travel to Rocky Mount to act as a commissioner on Friday.

This week's hearing is the 10th held as a part of the National Commission on Voting Rights. The Lawyers' Committee, which is coordinating the national hearings, plans to use the testimony submitted both orally and in writing to produce two reports, one on the state of voter discrimination in the U.S. and a second on electoral administration. 

The National Commission on the Voting Rights Act conducted similar hearings around the country in 2005, and the Commission's final report and record were requested by Congressional leaders to inform the debate on the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Ultimately, Congress found the Commission's record of voter discrimination convincing, and the bill to reauthorize passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

"The evidence that the National Commission compiled nine years ago convinced 490 members of Congress that the Voting Rights Act was a necessary guard against voter suppression at the state and local levels," Dr. Barber said. "Yet five people on the Supreme Court seem to think that racial discrimination in our electoral processes is a relic and that our people no longer need to worry about having our hard-won voting rights snatched from us. We will never go back. That is why this hearing is so crucial: to give voice to all those people here in this state who have had their right to vote undermined and who have not been fairly and justly represented by their government."



On Saturday, March 29, 2014, the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association will host the Living Legends Award Ceremony at the Martin Street Family Life Center, 1001 E. Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 27601 at 5:00 p.m. This prestigious event bestows awards upon extraordinary individuals who have made significant contributions and impact in the lives of other persons in Raleigh and Wake County. Award recipients will be recognized in the areas of Health, Education, Politics, Social Justice, Community Service, Economic Development, Religion and Public Administration. 2014 Living Legend Award recipients include Dr. Leroy Darkes; William (Bill) R. McNeal, The Honorable Daniel T. Blue, Jr., Reverend Marion Robinson; Mary Perry; Wallace Greene; Reverend Dr. J. Vincent Terry; and Dr. Everett B. Ward.

            Members of the Wake School Board’s new Government Relations Committee say the new state law eliminating tenure for teachers and requiring four-year contracts will do more harm than good. The committee, chaired by former Wake School Board Chairman Keith Sutton, is developing an alternative to the teacher contracts that members say is fair, and doesn’t threaten the morale of veteran educators. State lawmakers say offering teachers bonuses for them to voluntarily give up their tenure allows the system to ultimately eliminate ineffective educators. The NC Association of Educators is suing the state over the elimination of tenure under the new law. Sutton’s committee hopes to convince lawmakers to adopt their new plan for teacher pay, which they say they’ll unveil a version of when the state Legislature reconvenes in May for the short session.



            [CHAPEL HILL] Students used to the convenience of casting their one-stop ballots at the campus voting precinct at two North Carolina colleges got bad news this week. The Republican-led NC Board of Elections on Monday approved moving those sites off-campus at UNC-Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University for the 2014 primary. The ASU site in Boone has been there since 2008. In Chapel Hill, the Rams Head Dining Hall was the one-stop voting site as well for many UNC students. Republicans say relocating the sites in the two Democrat-controlled areas is “better” for the entire community. Democrats on the state board counter that the GOP is just trying to make voting harder.

            [RALEIGH] The controversy over the Duke Energy coal ash pond spill into the Dan River, and the NC Dept. of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) questionable response to it initially continues to grow. As a federal grand jury continues to probe whether there was any criminality involved in the Feb. 2nd spill which polluted nearly 70 miles of the Dan River, Duke Energy President Lynn Good took out full-page ads in newspapers across the state Sunday to assure “the People of North Carolina” that the company is doing all it can to “ensure the safety of our ash basins and develop a plan for long-term management, including closure.” There have been leaks at the 14 Duke Energy power plants across the state, all of which have been cited for polluted groundwater. DENR is now working with the US Environmental Protection Agency investigating whether there were violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

            [RALEIGH] The New York City Parks and Recreation Dept. is getting one of Raleigh city government’s best. Mitchell Silver, director of Raleigh’s Planning Dept., is leaving to become the new head of the Big Apple’s 1900 parks system. Silver, an African-American, came to Raleigh in 2005, and by all accounts, is considered to have done an excellent job changing the Capital City into a destination city for tourists and new residents. The revitalization of Raleigh’s downtown area is also credited to Silver.