The Story Of The Wilmington 10
Memoir of a Soul Survivor of the Wilmington Ten
By Wayne Moore
Triumphant Warrior will, through my perspective and experiences, unfold the largely untold, and often grossly under told, story of how a small group of young African-American men and one white woman became world-famous political prisoners in this country. At the same time, I am committed to providing a deeply rich and sensitive rendering of the inside story of the Wilmington Ten while holding up this landmark case for insights into the nature of the stubborn strains of intolerance in our culture as well as America’s continual of criminalization of young black Americans. These challenges of race and equality are just as much with us today as they were in the 1970s when the members of the Wilmington Ten were wrongly convicted and imprisoned.
The larger point is that Triumphant Warrior will not be simply a history book. Upcoming chapters will describe the emotional toll my arrest, trial and conviction took on me and my close-knit family and co-defendants. The Wilmington Ten was a case that began as a group of students thrust into a hostile school integration battle. But when we complained, a Southern racist system punished and prosecuted us on false charges and unjustly locked us away in an American gulag.
The Prologue and first four chapters introduce me, my life and background along with historic backdrop of Wilmington, North Carolina, its racial past and the key conflict, the closing of a beloved black high school in the name of racial integration that ignited the larger clashes that ended in bloodshed, death, property damage and the imprisonment of the Wilmington Ten.
Chapter Five will plunge readers into Wilmington 1971, and into the chaos that followed the black boycott of area schools in which I played a part. It will introduce readers to the charismatic arrival of the Rev. Benjamin Chavis and his many attempts to peacefully resolve the conflict that seemed to drawn all of Wilmington, good and bad, into this racially driven showdown.
Chapter Six will take readers behind the battle line with black students forced to live under siege in Gregory church, the boycott’s headquarters where makeshift high school courses were taught for boycotting students, and were weapons were amassed in self defense after white supremacy groups opened fire on the church. In time, armed black militants from within and outside North Carolina converged on the church to protect us. Among them were Vietnam War veterans, black marines from Camp Lejeune who called themselves the Mau Maus, a reference to Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenyan revolutionaries, and a group of Black Panthers from Greensboro and Winston-Salem. The chapter will put readers in the middle of these tensions and the ideological crossfire from both sides, each believing in the correctness of their cause.
Chapter Seven will examine Wilmington’s power structure and its response to the black protesters in the midst of mysterious fires and less mysterious riots. I will also detail the black community’s counter response, enlisting the help of famous civil rights figures like Golden Frinks and the Poor People’s Organization and how all of this turmoil changed my life forever.
Chapter 8 will focus on the compiling of the criminal case against the Wilmington Ten, and the ease in which the system worked against of me and the interest of all of the defendants. I was the last of the Ten to be arrested. I will provide a chronology of mounting events and what it was like to feel the breath of the wolves of the courts and media at your neck. I also flash back in this chapter to tell a fuller story of my family’s origin, how I came to be born in New York’s Harlem and yet landed in Wilmington, N. C. for most of my life. Readers will also learn about his father, how he met my mother, then his absence and how a new man, Charlie, my mother’s boyfriend, came violently into the lives of our ever expanding family.
Chapter 9 sees the noose tighten around my neck of those and my Wilmington Ten co-defendants. I will provide a fascinating look at our trail and the limits of our criminal justice system – when it is badly broken for political and cultural reasons. I will outline the case brought by the prosecutor who would be found years later to have committed gross malfeasance, including paying witnesses to testify against us and excluding prospective jurors who may given us a fair hearing.
This chapter will also flash forward to tell the story of this prosecutor who went on a spree of criminal offenses that landed him in prison to this day.
Chapter 10 follows a trail of appeals that failed to keep us out of prison. I will show the human cost on me and my co-defendants as we struggled to maintain our freedom against tremendous odds. The chapter will also follow the Wilmington 10 into prison and out on bond, and then back again to serve out long sentences. I was sentenced to 29 years. Once behind bars with little reason to believe I would be freed any time soon, I develop survival tactics that I spell out in this chapter. One of them was to continue my education behind bars. My co-defendant, Ben Chavis, received his doctorate degree while imprisoned.
Chapter 11 emphasizes my growth and development and how I overcame or defeated bitterness and depression. In many ways, I became a man behind bars. I will also provide a timeline of events to illustrate how I finally got out of prison and to Shaw University. We see how I react to the students there and how they reacted to me. In this chapter I show readers how the Wilmington Ten became widely viewed as political prisoners. Even President Carter, while criticizing the Soviet Union’s poor human rights record, was reminded by Russian leadership that the U.S. has its own human rights violations as evidenced by the Wilmington Ten.
Chapter12 shows the process of legal challenges, mostly waged by Amnesty International and the Wilmington Ten legal team, that, with widespread and supportive media attention, led to the Ten’s release. I clarify the sequence of legal events that bolstered my sense – despite our release -- of a miscarriage of justice.
Chapter 13 details the tremendous heavy human costs we all paid during the trial and imprisonment. Even without conviction set aside, out reputations were ruined, at least in Wilmington. We were once promising athletes, musicians, politicians set adrift by a central injustice. I write about my attempts to restart my life in my hometown, Wilmington. But white Wilmington remembered me too well and shunned me, which made it practically impossible for me to make a living there. I faltered and eventually relocated up North.
Chapter14 sees me and my family move to Ann Arbor, Michigan by way of a good-hearted, white minister who invited me to start a new life there.. My family and I lived in his home with his family as I tried to regroup. I eventually found a place of my own and returned to school to become a certified electrician. My family returned to North Carolina. I was heartbroken, but I pressed on.
Chapter 15 is all about my path to redemption and my struggle to get the remaining members of the Wilmington Ten a pardon from North Carolina’s governor. Me, the shy guy, steps back into the media glare.
Chapter16 is about the pardon that came for the Wilmington Ten in the last minutes of 2012, the relief I felt along with the surviving Wilmington Ten; there are six of us now. The chapter will concentrate on a time of renewal and reflection, and a bit of inside story about the inspiration and completion of this book.
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