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]

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