Upperman Center’s Symposium to Explore Justice, Education and the Wilmington Ten

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

A two-day symposium will explore justice, education and integration through the story of the Wilmington Ten.

The Wilmington Ten Symposium, hosted by the Upperman African American Cultural Center, will feature presentations from UNCW faculty, community members, educators, surviving Wilmington Ten members and those directly involved in their pardons.

The Wilmington Ten was a group of activists wrongly convicted of arson and conspiracy during the 1971 school integration protests in Wilmington, NC. Their case drew national attention and support for their release. Their convictions were finally overturned in 1980, and the group was given full pardons in 2012.

Sean Palmer, Upperman Center executive director, said the symposium “sheds light on the difficulties of integration and Black students and helps us to consider the relationship between power and education.”

“We hope the audiences will seek to consider the depth of conflict that permeates the tension of race in Wilmington,” he added. “We also hope that people will deepen their understanding of Wilmington and its racialized histories and will consider the ways in which the legacy of the Wilmington Ten shows up in our everyday living."

The symposium will be held Nov. 9-10 on UNCW’s campus. The event is free and open to the public. It is one of several events hosted by the Upperman Center this academic year to observe 60 years of Black student life at UNCW. The symposium is a collaboration among the Upperman Center, the Department of History, the Department of Sociology and Criminology, Honors College, University College, the College of Health and Human Services and the Watson College of Education.

More information can be found about the Wilmington Ten in the Randall Library Archives. For more information about the symposium, contact Renee Clauson-Rivera, Upperman Center program coordinator, at

Symposium Schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 9

Film Showing & Discussion of “Pardon of Innocence” in Conversation with Journalist Cash Michaels and Wilmington Ten Lawyer and NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner
Noon – 2:30 p.m., Lumina Theater
Speakers: Cash Michaels, journalist; and Irving Joyner, Wilmington Ten Lawyer and NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner

Teaching the Wilmington Ten with Babette Boyd and Faculty
4 – 5 p.m., Fisher University Union, Carolina Beach Room
Moderated by Senior Lecturer of Criminology Babette Boyd, J.D., with UNCW faculty and staff

Truth, Racial Healing and a Case for Reparations
4 – 8 p.m., McNeill Hall 1005
The Restorative Justice Collaborative at UNCW hosts a panel discussion and workshops focused on the lasting effects of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre and its ties to the current liberation movements. Registration is required. Visit for details. 

Surviving Wilmington with the Wilmington 10
6 – 7:30 p.m., Fisher University Union, Azalea Coast Room
Speakers: Filmmaker Francine DeCoursey; Wilmington Ten member Willie Vereen; Rev. Kojo Nantambu, Wilmington Ten boycott leader and former Charlotte NAACP President; and Irving Joyner, Wilmington Ten lawyer and North Carolina Central University law professor

Thursday, Nov. 10

Strategizing a Movement: Educators & the Politics of the Wilmington
Noon – 2 p.m., Madeline Suites
Speakers: Bertha Todd, Civil Rights advocate and former Williston Senior High School librarian, and Dr. Charles Foust, New Hanover County Schools superintendent

What We Learn from Wilmington’s Ten: Modern-Day Activism & Advocacy with Lettie Gore
6 – 7:30 p.m., Warwick Ballroom
Speaker: Lettie Gore, historian and advocate

--Venita Jenkins