Today at 10:30, UNC students, faculty, staff, North Carolina community members and representatives from the press began to assemble on the steps of Wilson Library to demonstrate the necessity that Governor Beverly Purdue pardon members of the Wilmington Ten in the final days of her administration.  Reverend Dr. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP aptly described the rhetoric that has surrounded the case for forty years: clutching at straws of evidence that members of the Wilmington Ten broke any law has taken precedence over the fact that the prosecution for their case behaved illegally on multiple occasions.
This is unacceptable in light of the illegal actions known to have been committed by the prosecution during the 1972 case.  Prosecutor Stroud, who has recently been disbarred, feigned serious illness in order to cause a mistrial when he learned that the jury selected for the first Wilmington Ten trial was comprised of ten African Americans and two white men.  According to documents presented by Dr. Tim Tyson, which are currently housed in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library, Stroud wrote “B” next to the names of black jurors, and included comments like “KKK Good” and “sensible Uncle Tom Type” in the margins.
There is also evidence that Stroud bribed three of the key witnesses, for example, by purchasing a minibike for one and offering another $40,000 to appear in a grand jury hearing.
Justice for political prisoners, for activists whose very struggle for freedom and justice is criminalized, for those who suffer from the abuse of state power, are all topics of concern for feminists.  The Civil Rights struggle continues today; social and economic injustices persist today, and are perpetuated in public schools, at “our” borders, in prisons.  Women are always implicated in the system, both as participants in and victims of egregious injustice done in the name of free trade and national security, both of which constitute a twentieth-century revision of White Men’s Rights demonstrations that occurred in Wilmington’s historic Hugh MacRae Park at the time of the Wilmington Ten trials.

I used to play in that park, y’all.  -Sarah-Kathryn Bryan

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