On behalf of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project – a justice outreach effort of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Wilmington Journal newspaper – we are all very proud of North Carolina today, and extraordinarily grateful to our Governor, Beverly Perdue, by having the tremendous courage and wisdom to grant all members of the Wilmington Ten, pardons of actual innocence.
Gov. Perdue’s historic action today doesn’t remove the past forty years of injustice against ten innocent American citizens – North Carolinians who stood up for equal treatment under the law in our public education system. But it does correct the historical record that Connie Tindall, Jerry Jacobs, William Joe Wright, Anne Sheppard, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, James McKoy, Reginald Epps, Willie Earl Vereen, and the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis were indeed innocent of all charges falsely assessed to them by a corrupt prosecutor who, to this day, has not answered for what he did.
We sincerely hope that now that, at long last, a certain peace can be restored to the shattered lives of the surviving members of the Wilmington Ten, and to the family members Jerry Jacobs, William Joe Wright, Anne Sheppard and Connie Tindall all of whom are deceased.
We also hope, and pray that the state of North Carolina, and the nation, has learned from this great tragedy of injustice. If America is to live up to the true meaning of its creed, that all men and women are created equal before the yes of GOD, then we must fight, and fight hard for the integrity of our criminal justice system.
For if we don’t, then none of us are safe from those who would seek to destroy the fundamental liberties of citizens who seek only to make this nation the land of promise and freedom that many before us sacrificed so much for future generations to see.
On behalf of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project and the NNPA, thank you to the NAACP, Change.org, and all who assisted us in this vital quest for justice.