Home » 10th Anniversary of Pardons of Innocence for the Wilmington Ten

10th Anniversary of Pardons of Innocence for the Wilmington Ten

by The Urban News
Social activists, the Wilmington Ten.

Ten years ago on January 5, 2013, North Carolina history was made when the seven surviving members of the Wilmington Ten—ten social activists—received official pardons of innocence.

More than 40 years earlier, in February 1971, the Wilmington Ten had been falsely convicted of firebombing a white-owned grocery store and firing weapons on firefighters and police officers in riot-torn Wilmington, NC.

NC Gov. Beverly Perdue, on her last day in office on December 31st, 2012, signed the certificates, effectively exonerating the Ten—nine Black men and one white female, three of them posthumously—of the false charges.

The historic event, which took place a decade ago, was the direct result of the advocacy and leadership of late Wilmington Journal publisher/editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, who convinced the 200-member National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to sanction a campaign in March 2011 to have the Wilmington Ten pardoned.

Wilmington Journal publisher/editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch
Wilmington Journal publisher/editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch

The story is recounted in a new short film titled, The Legacy of Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, which will be shown at the upcoming 22nd Annual African American Cultural Celebration at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh, NC on Saturday, January 28, 2023, from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Ms. Thatch, 78, died just a year ago on December 28, 2021 of an undisclosed illness. But, upon her death, she was roundly heralded for being a staunch African American community leader and believer that “There is power in the Black Press.”

Winning pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten is widely considered the hallmark of her journalistic career.

It was February of 2011 when Bill Saffo, the mayor of Wilmington, presided over the 40th anniversary commemoration of the Wilmington Ten at UNC Wilmington. Saffo publicly apologized to the surviving members of the Ten “…who were done a tremendous injustice by our judicial system…”

Letters of apology were…

Read the full article here

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