The Rev. Ben Chavis, a member of the Wilmington 10, publicly thanked former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue for pardoning the Wilmington 10.
“Since this is my first trip back to Raleigh, I must pay tribute to the first woman governor of North Carolina – one of the best governors this state has ever had, Gov. Beverly Perdue,” Chavis told a breakfast of the Jefferson-Jackson Day Democratic fund raising at the North Raleigh Hilton that was attended by more than 200 people.
Chavis, was a 24-year old civil rights leader, when he along with nine others were convicted of arson in the role in racial disturbances in Wilmington. Chavis was sentenced to 34 years in prison in 1972, but his sentence was overturned by a federal appeals court in 1980.
Chavis, who went on to a career that included a stint as executive director of the NAACP, now lives in Florida.
Perdue issued a pardon of the Wilmington 10 in December, just days before she left office.
Chavis attended the breakfast to introduce former Congresswoman Eva Clayton, who introduced the main speaker, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.