Wilmington, N.C. — The surviving members of the "Wilmington 10," the nine men and one woman wrongly convicted more than 40 years ago in the fire-bombing of a grocery store, and family members of the four who are deceased gathered Saturday in the town where their long journey started to accept the formal certificates of pardon signed last week by the governor.
Benjamin Chavis, Connie Tindall, Marvin Patrick, Wayne Moore, Reginald Epps, Jerry Jacobs, James McKoy, Willie Earl Vereen, William Wright Jr. and Ann Shepard were convicted of arson after a race riot in the city in 1971 only to see their convictions overturned years later after findings of prosecutorial misconduct. Perdue's action was the final step in a long battle waged by civil rights groups, lawyers and families.
"These pardons help remove a stain from the nation, help to heal the breach of the world," State NAACP President Rev. William Barber said. "Each of Gov. Perdue's ten pardons of innocence are national and international acts of redemption and grace."
On Saturday, hundreds crowded Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ to hear from Barber and Chavis, among others.