The following is an open letter to Gov. Perdue from Chronicle Publisher Ernie Pitt urging the governor to pardon the Wilmington Ten.
Dear Gov. Beverly Eaves Perdue:
I am Ernie Pitt, publisher of The Chronicle in Winston-Salem, a member paper of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a national trade organization of over 200 African-American newspapers.
In March 2011, the NNPA, after great consideration, adopted seeking individual pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten because we believed then, and do now, that 40 years of injustice against these 10 innocent North Carolinians – four of whom have died – must come to an end.
Based on history, and recent reporting by our NNPA member newspaper here in North Carolina, The Wilmington Journal, it is beyond clear, in my opinion, that a gross miscarriage of justice took place in the courts of North Carolina in 1972.
The facts clearly show that a racist state prosecutor, intent on putting Rev. Benjamin Chavis and nine of his supporters in prison, did so not because they were guilty of any crime, but to punish them, and make examples of them because they stood up against racial discrimination in New Hanover County Public Schools.
Their crimes, in the mind of the prosecutor, were political, and the only way to punish them was to make them criminals. They were collectively sentenced to 282 years in prison, and forced to serve some of that time before the truth was revealed.
The federal appeals court in 1980 determined The Wilmington Ten were, indeed, victims of prosecutorial misconduct, and overturned all of their convictions.
But the state of North Carolina has not followed suit, and we have been left to wonder, for the past 32 years, why?
It is time for the wondering to end, Gov. Perdue. I know that you have been a fair, bold and courageous governor during your term in office, and have stood up to powerful forces in North Carolina for what you believe is right. You are held in high regard by the NNPA. We supported you throughout the state.
I therefore ask you, before you leave office at the end of this year, to pardon the Wilmington Ten, and send a message to the world that the state of North Carolina believes not only in good government, but indeed, in fair and equal justice for all.
Move Reynolds High School
To the Editor:
Our city and the school system have a unique opportunity to collaborate on one decision that can solve two problems.
Problem One: It is important that R. J. Reynolds High School have a nearby football stadium and multi-sport practice fields, but visibly intruding on Hanes Park is an untenable sacrifice of green multi-use public park space.
Problem Two: Neighbors and alumni are distressed that historic Griffith High School buildings are scheduled for demolition.
The Solution: Build a state-of-the-art high-rise Reynolds High School on Clemmonsville Road in the complex with Deaton-Thompson Stadium, Griffith Elementary, and Georgia Taylor Recreation Center. Integrate the 1926 Griffith façade and cornerstone into RJR, and respectfully keep the Griffith name on that wing.
An additional payoff: Reynolds Auditorium and Hanes Park—along with the re-purposing of the RJR classroom buildings—would become a destination, a city jewel. Offer concerts, drama, and other big events in the auditorium; education of all kinds (for all ages) in former classrooms, labs, studios and gyms; with nature and ecology study and hobbies in Hanes Park—along with existing outdoor team and informal recreation.
Ellen S. Yarborough