Interview: Kenneth Robert Janken on The Wilmington Ten

Hannah Lohr-Pearson: Who are the Wilmington Ten and why are they important?

Kenneth Robert Janken: The Wilmington Ten were Ben Chavis, Reginald Epps, Jerry Jacobs, James McKoy, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, Ann Shepard, Connie Tindall, Willie Earl Vereen, and Joe Wright. They were nine black men in their teens and early twenties, many of them still in high school, and a white woman in her thirties, who participated in conflict and protests over the desegregation of the public schools in Wilmington, North Carolina, and were punished with the full force of the law for standing against discrimination. The case of the Wilmington Ten amounts to one of the most egregious instances of injustice and political repression from the post-World War II black freedom struggle. It took legions of people working over the course of the 1970s to right the wrong. Like the political killings of George Jackson and Fred Hampton, the legal frame-up of Angela Davis, and the suppression of the Attica Prison rebellion, the Wilmington Ten was a high-profile attempt by federal and North Carolina authorities to stanch the increasingly radical African American freedom movement. The facts of the callous, corrupt, and abusive prosecution of the Wilmington Ten have lost none of their power to shock more than forty years after the fact, even given today’s epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct. Less understood, but just as important, the efforts to free the Wilmington Ten helped define an important moment in African American politics, in which an increasingly variegated movement coordinated its efforts under the leadership of a vital radical Left. Continue Reading Interview: Kenneth Robert Janken on The Wilmington Ten

The Story of Service, Part 6: The US Colored Regiment

On July 26, a mural named SERVICE was dedicated at UNC’s School of Government in the Knapp-Sanders Building. The mural depicts a gathering of African-American leaders at the counter of a diner, painted by Colin Quashie as a creative interpretation of the historical 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina sit-in. We are featuring each of the eight… Continue Reading The Story of Service, Part 6: The US Colored Regiment

Rosh Hashana evolves over generations in North Carolina

With the start of Rosh Hashana at sundown this evening, we welcome a guest post from Leonard Rogoff, author of Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina. Published in association with the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina, Down Home is part of a larger documentary project of the same name that includes a film… Continue Reading Rosh Hashana evolves over generations in North Carolina

“Black Men Bearing Freedom” This Weekend in Wilmington

All readers interested in American history should take the coming Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend as an opportunity to head to the Wilmington area for a fantastic panel discussion titled “Black Men Bearing Freedom: U.S. Colored Troops and Their Impact in North Carolina” on January 15th at 6 p.m. Presented by the Fort Fisher… Continue Reading “Black Men Bearing Freedom” This Weekend in Wilmington