Retelling The Story Of The Wilmington Ten

Jan 15, 2016

Despite court-mandated integration in 1968,the relationship between black and white students grew more hostile in New Hanover County, North Carolina. 

In early 1971, a group of black students boycotted and demanded changes in the school system. They faced harassment and eventually violence from white supremacist groups. Law enforcement intervened after the interactions escalated into a fire and a death.

The district attorney fabricated a story and framed 10 protesters, known as the Wilmington Ten, for false charges like arson and conspiracy. The Wilmington Ten were found guilty and spent years in prison, but international backlash and appeals finally overturned the convictions in 1980. They were not pardoned until 2012.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Kenneth Janken, professor of African, African American and Disapora Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, who has documented this story in “The Wilmington Ten: Violence, Injustice and the Rise of Black Politics in the 1970s” (UNC Press/2016). 

Janken reads from his book on January 21 at 7 p.m. at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. 

Other North Carolina events include: 

  • February 17 at 7 p.m. at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte
  • February 21 at 3 p.m. at the Durham Public Library
  • February 26 at 7 p.m. at Pomegranate Books in Wilmington