Carolina Civic Center to host “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” documentary

LUMBERTON — The Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater, in partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, will screen the CashWorks HD Productions documentary “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, followed by a panel discussion about the film.

Doors will open 6 p.m. The theater is located at 315 N. Chestnut St. in downtown Lumberton.

The film is written, produced and narrated by Cash Michaels, staff writer for The Wilmington Journal. In addition to the film’s director, panel discussion members include Rev. Benjamin Chavis, former national director of the NAACP and member of the “Wilmington Ten.” This special event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Tickets can be obtained or reserved for pick up through the theater’s box office. The box office is open noon-6pm weekdays for in-person orders or by calling 910-738-4339.

The documentary recounts the history surrounding the troubled desegregation of New Hanover County Public schools during the late 1960s through 1971, which evolved into the false prosecution of eight black male students, a white female community organizer, and a fiery civil rights activist, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, for protesting racial injustice. The proud history of Williston Senior High School, the all-Black school in Wilmington which was unceremoniously closed in 1968, will also be honored.

Against the backdrop of the Wilmington 1898 race massacre and the forced desegregation of Southern schools in the 1960s, 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, ultimately pushed for, and achieved the official exoneration of the Wilmington Ten.

Special appearances in the film include the Rev. Benjamin Chavis Jr., leader of the Wilmington Ten; Joseph McNeil – Williston Senior High School alumnus and a member of the Greensboro Four who integrated a downtown Greensboro F. W. Woolworth store in 1960; Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and one of the ministers who lobbied Gov. James Hunt in 1977 to pardon the Wilmington Ten; and former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who ultimately pardoned the Wilmington Ten in December 2012.

The documentary – which premiered in 2014 — has also been released on DVD for public schools — grades 9 through 12 (with academic guide); colleges and universities, and the general public.

The NNPA, also known as “The Black Press of America,” is a 74-year-old federation of more than 200 black community newspapers across the United States. In 2011, led by The Wilmington Journal, the NNPA, and NNPA Foundation led by Dorothy Leavell, publisher of Chicago Crusader, adopted seeking pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten as a project.

The Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater is a beautifully-restored treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places that offers visitors a unique and visually stunning experience. The theater is located at 315 North Chestnut Street in the heart of downtown Lumberton. First opened in 1928 as a vaudeville and silent film house, the theater offers a wide array of programming including live touring performances, original productions, art exhibits, films, special events and rentals. For more information visit www.carolinaciviccenter.com

Courtesy photo The documentary recounts the history surrounding the troubled desegregation of New Hanover County Public schools during the late 1960s through 1971, which evolved into the false prosecution of eight black male students, a white female community organizer, and a fiery civil rights activist for protesting racial injustice.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_Wilmington.jpgCourtesy photo The documentary recounts the history surrounding the troubled desegregation of New Hanover County Public schools during the late 1960s through 1971, which evolved into the false prosecution of eight black male students, a white female community organizer, and a fiery civil rights activist for protesting racial injustice.