*(Baltimore, MD) – The NAACP released the following statement in response to North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue’s pardon of the group of civil rights activists known as the Wilmington 10.
From Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the National NAACP:
“This pardon brings closure to a case marred by racism and injustice,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “I applaud Gov. Beverly Purdue for her leadership in righting this disgraceful wrong and congratulate the NAACP North Carolina State Conference, NAACP members, and activists around the country for their work to raise awareness about this case.”
Rev. William J. Barber II, North Carolina NAACP State Conference President
“Today the spirit of justice was awakened in the Capitol of North Carolina,” said Rev. William Barber, President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “Governor Beverly Perdue has signed a Pardon of Innocence for nine men and one woman known as ‘The Wilmington 10.’ These young people were non-violent protestors fighting for educational equality. They were framed, wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in connection to a fire bombing in Wilmington, NC over 40 years ago. These unjust convictions were due to racist manipulation of the court system and extraordinary and blatant racially motivated prosecutorial misconduct. A Federal Court overturned these convictions over 30 years ago but until today, NC had fallen short. In the last few days of her governorship, Governor Perdue has walked us into a season of epiphany.”
In 1971, ten young activists, later deemed the Wilmington 10, were falsely accused and framed for crimes they did not commit. They were convicted and sentenced to a combined 300 years in prison. In 1980 a federal court overturned their convictions but the charges remained on their records and their names were never cleared.
The NAACP organized a petition to Gov. Perdue asking that she pardon these innocent activists. The petition received more than 15,000 signatures.
Derek Turner / NAACP