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Campaign Button "Free the Wilmington 10 Now!" ca. 1971-1981; 4.4 cm.
NCC Accession No: CK.999.21

This button refers to an interracial conflict in Wilmington in 1971. Civil Rights activist Ben Chavis (depicted on button) was sent to Wilmington to organize African American students who were protesting discrimination in newly desegregated public schools. A week of racial violence broke out, and a state of emergency was declared. During that week, Mike's Grocery, a white-owned store, was fire-bombed. Although claiming their innocence, Chavis and nine others were arrested for the crime. The convictions prompted protests across the nation, many feeling the group had been framed. In 1981, a year after Chavis was paroled, a federal appeals court overturned the convictions of the "Wilmington 10."