The Story Of The Wilmington 10
“THE WILMINGTON TEN
A Docu-drama /Feature Film
Produced & Directed by:
Restless Hearts Productions, LLC
Willie Earl Vereen
& Connie Tindall
(Two of the ‘Wilmington Ten’
Francine DeCoursey, Producer
Wilmington Camera Services
905 N. 23rd St.
Wilmington, North Carolina 28405
910-343-1089/ HM. OFF. 910-763-0288 / email@example.com
Ten promising student Leaders
took a peaceful stand against unfair treatment and injustice.
When violence erupted, they were wrongly accused, unjustly tried,
found guilty, and sentenced to a combined total of 282 years.
They were 17 - 21 year old students…sentenced to 15 -34 years each
in a maximum security prison for crimes they did not commit.
They have never recovered!
This is the story of the
‘Wilmington Ten’…Justice Denied…Lives Interrupted’
It’s February1971, in Wilmington, North Carolina, in the racially divided South.
Williston Senior High was the heart & soul of the black community...
Great teachers, the region’s best football & baseball teams, enthusiastic school spirit, a sense of community and cultural pride! Desegregation came and closed their beloved Williston, the black students forced to leave their school, their
communities, to attend all white schools… essentially stripping them of their former status in student government, school organizations, sports, and social activities…
a challenging and upsetting notion for young people of color,
at the threshold of young adulthood.
Immediately feeling they were being treated as “second class citizens,”
a group of the black student leaders drew up a list of grievances, requesting protection from harassment, fair treatment in school, sports, and social activities, and the development of a black studies program. Following proper procedures, they solicited support from their teachers, the principal, then from the board of education...and eventually from the Mayor of the city.
When no assistance was forthcoming, they staged a peaceful, nonviolent boycott.
With 100% participation from the black students, they marched to
Gregory Congregational Church, a nearby all black church with a white minister.
With help from Headstart volunteers, they set up classrooms in the church,
the older students teaching the younger. With unrest and violence brewing in the neighborhood, the minister, concerned for the students’ safety, called the Southern Christian leadership, and they sent Rev. Ben Chavis, an experienced field organizer,
to assist their efforts in Wilmington.
In the days that followed, untrue rumors began to circulate that a ‘troublemaker was in town,’ stockpiling guns and hand-grenades in the church.
violence erupted, and white vigilantes began to shoot at the Church
filled with black students. A young black student was seriously wounded.
On the night of February 6, 1971, a neighborhood grocery store was firebombed,
and a young black man in the vicinity unjustly shot and killed by the police.
The National Guard was called in, a curfew placed on the town. Eventually, an uneasy peace prevailed. One year later, in the middle of the night, armed police officers banged on the doors of these student leaders, forcibly arrested them on ‘suspicion of arson’, held guns to the heads of these teenage boys, handcuffed them and removed them from their homes…leaving their families in terror, fearing for their lives.
One cannot fully understand February 1971, without a knowledge of the
Racial Massacre & Coup D’etat of Wilmington, NC in November 1898.
African-Americans were beginning to gain an economic and political foothold in Wilmington, after surviving 300 years of enslavement. The white power elite reacted by exiling at gunpoint all the black leaders of Wilmington, killing many along the way. They destroyed the city’s only black newspaper, and drafted a ‘white man’s declaration of independence’ claiming blacks unsuitable for good paying jobs and holding public office… then, forcibly removing the newly elected blacks officials from public office,
they staged the only coup d’etat in our nation’s history!
Racial tension in Wilmington seethed just below the surface for the next century.
But there was nothing about this historic racial tragedy in the school’s history courses, and these black students felt compelled to make their history known.
The trial of the ‘Wilmington Ten’
In a trial with no hard evidence, no reliable witnesses, a jury of 10 whites
And 2 blacks, none of these accused students were called to testify on their own behalf. Charged with arson and endangering an officer,
a crime that had held a maximum sentence of 18 months only a year earlier…
they were sentenced to a combined total of 282 years!
Now known as ‘the ‘WILMINGTON TEN’,
these ten 17 - 21 year old students, nine black males, one white female,
were sentenced to15 - 34 years each in maximum security federal prison
for crimes they did not commit.
The United Church of Christ and Southern Christian Leadership challenged the case, committed to the cause, they raised funds, hired lawyers, fought diligently,
and eventually got Amnesty international involved.
Amnesty International & International solidarity
Amnesty International declared the ‘Wilmington Ten’ as ‘political prisoners,’
and the case soon became a ’cause celebre,’
creating a sense of outrage and ‘international solidarity’ in cities around the world.
In Paris, France, students chained themselves to the American embassy in support of the “Wilmington Ten” .
Tens of thousands took to the streets in Jamaica, Brazil, and Cuba
demanding the release of the ‘Wilmington10’.
In Havana, a billboard still stands proclaiming ‘Free the Wilmington 10’
in Washington, DC, thousands marched to the White House to
“Free the Wilmington 10!”
When president Jimmy Carter challenged the Soviet Union to
release political prisoners…
President Brezhnev of Russia responded to President Carter ,
‘What about the Wilmington 10?! They’re political prisoners in the USA!”
Finally, after each of ‘Ten’ had served 5 - 8 yrs in a maximum security prison, they were released on a technicality. The former witnesses have since stated that they were coerced to lie on the witness stand. Justice Denied…Lives interrupted.
When the ‘Wilmington Ten’ returned home to ‘Wilmington’, they were not welcomed with open arms. Many in their own families, their own communities, had come to believe the constant ‘guilty’ stories in the media, and treated them like criminals.
Careers and relationships have been compromised or lost. Times have been hard,
lives have been shattered.
Of the Ten, two have died, five moved away, with varying levels of success and failure. But the ones who chose to stay in Wilmington, and attempt to remain connected to their families and their roots, they have struggled most. With steely determination, they have endured the negative stigma, the many false starts, loss of jobs, escape into drugs and alcohol, their hopes and dreams destroyed...All because they made a choice to stand up for their rights as men, at a volatile time in the History of the South.
Books, articles, and scholarly papers have been written, a few videos produced…
but for the first time on-camera, two of the actual ‘Wilmington Ten’ ,
WILLIE EARL VEREEN & CONNIE TINDALL, have decided to tell their own personal stories…recalling those vital years as promising young black men, years forever stolen and wasted in a prison cell, the lost opportunities adversely
affecting their lives until this day… and the continuing struggle to reclaim their lives
Pre-Production has begun on a docu-drama/ feature film.
“THE WILMINGTON TEN...
Justice Denied...Lives Interrupted”
Any assistance with Funding and distribution is sincerely appreciated.
FOR INFO, CONTACT PRODUCER, FRANCINE DeCOURSEY,
RESTLESS HEARTS PRODUCTIONS, LLC, 910-763-0288/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Producers: Willie Earl Vereen & Connie Tindall of the ‘WILMINGTON TEN”
Wayne i sent this email out to Groovers USA our national mailing list.
Hello brothers i would like to encourage you to visit and join in on this web site: www. Triumphantwarriors.ning.com or click the link below.Wayne Moore is a friend of Groove phi Groove and is currently engaged in a very important social endeavor which closely identifies with PURPOSE of GphiG , this is a testament to the vision of our great founders as you will realize as you read through the forums of his site.Please identify yourself in your profiles as a member of Groove phi Groove and give your input as you feel compelled .
Shaw University Bruin Chapter sprg. 1979
I want to expose and garner as much support for this most needed enlightment .It was 1971 in Wilmington and the horrific injustices upon the Wilmington 10,just 11 years prior and with apparent vision for the need for preservation of our black institutions and ideas , Groove was born with this purpose ...........Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc. was founded at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) on October 12, 1962 by fourteen daring, young, black American men who wanted to change the way we think about brotherhood.
Our founders established the Fellowship with the purposes of promoting academic awareness, ethical standards, and unity among men in undergraduate and graduate college programs; creating intelligent and effective leadership; and studying and helping to alleviate the social and economic problems of society to generally improve the world.
Little did our founders know in 1962 that the fruits of their efforts at Morgan State College would evolve into a thriving movement that continues to play an important role in developing and nurturing what we know as Black America.So this endeavor Wayne that you have embarked upon here is a welcomed discussion of knowledge and truth all need to be made aware of, and I am confident the men of Groove will see all its relevant and wonderful worth .
Find more music like this on Triumphant Warriors