Tuesday, March 31, 2015



The true story of
The Wilmington Ten 



         Film wins Second Place in Best Documentary category   

      WILMINGTON, NC – The acclaimed feature-length documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” won Second Place in the Best Documentary category during the 14th Annual NC Black Film Festival in Wilmington Sunday, March 29th.

      Produced by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and CashWorks HD Productions, the 119-minute documentary recounts the turbulent history surrounding the troubled desegregation of New Hanover County Public School System in North Carolina during the late 1960s through 1971, and the violence that led up to the false prosecution and convictions of eight black male students, a white female community organizer, and fiery civil rights activist, Rev. Benjamin Chavisfor protesting racial injustice.

     The case of the Wilmington Ten made national and international headlines, resulting in a huge national, and even international movement to free them after Amnesty International formally declared them “political prisoners.”

      Produced, written and directed by Wilmington Journal staff writer Cash Michaels, the film also traces how the Black Press, led initially by Wilmington Journal publisher Thomas C. Jervay, Sr., and subsequently over 40 years later by his daughter, publisher-editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, through the NNPA, ultimately pushed for, and achieved the official and dramatic exoneration of the Wilmington Ten in 2012 through pardons of innocence by North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue.

      Featured exclusive interviews in the film include Governor Beverly Perdue, who tells how powerful people across the state of North Carolina tried to stop her from granting pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten; Joseph McNeil, Wilmington, NC native and member of the legendary Greensboro Four, who tells why black students had to stand up for freedom and against racism during the 1960’s and 70’s; Dr. Benjamin Chavis, NNPA president and leader of the Wilmington Ten, who relives the events that led up to that racially violent week in Wilmington in February 1971; Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, recalling how he and other clergy from the United Church of Christ came to Raleigh in 1977 and met with then Gov. James Hunt to implore him to pardon the Wilmington Ten, only to be rejected.

       The film was screened in Washington, D.C. during  the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in Sept. 2014, in addition to various other cities across the nation.

        On Sept. 3, 2015, it was screened at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn, and on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, at the 72nd Annual NC NAACP Convention in Winston - Salem, NC.  It is scheduled to be screened at Tryon Palace NC History Center in New Bern, NC on Jan. 21, 2016, and at the NC Museum of History on Feb. 7, 2016.

        The film has been updated to reflect the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and other current developments.

                             THE FILMMAKER

         Cash Michaels is the award-winning editor, chief reporter/photographer and columnist for The Carolinian Newspaper, the twice-weekly African-American publication covering Raleigh and the state of North Carolina for over 70 years.

        Michaels also serves as staff writer and award-winning columnist for the Wilmington Journal newspaper in Wilmington, NC, and has been contributing writer to The Amsterdam News in New York. Many of his stories are also carried across the nation via the 200-member National Newspaper Publishers Association.

        In video production, Michaels produces a wide range of video and documentary projects through his CashWorks HD Productions, based out of Cary, NC. His latest award-winning project is the National Newspaper Publishers Association – CashWorks HD Productions feature-length presentation of “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” the true story of how the Black Press led the way in securing pardons of innocence, after 40 years, for the ten falsely convicted civil rights activists.

        Michaels served as producer, writer and director of the project.

        The documentary premiered April 5, 2014 during a special screening at UNC-Wilmington in Wilmington, NC. The film made its national debut on Sept. 26th, 2014 during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference. Since then the film has been featured during the 2015 Hayti Heritage Film Festival in Durham, and won Second Place for Best Documentary during the 2015 NC Black Film Festival in Wilmington March 29th.

         On March 28th, 2015, the film was screened for the residents of Burgaw, NC in the very courthouse, and courtroom where the Wilmington Ten were falsely tried and convicted in Oct. 1972, in Pender County, NC.

         Among Michaels previous productions is the highly acclaimed feature-length documentary, “Obama in NC: The Path to History,” which debuted in Raleigh on Jan. 16, 2010, and made its first theatrical debut on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 at the Galaxy Cinema in Cary. This production won Second Place for Best Documentary during the 2010 Hayti Heritage Film Festival in Durham.

        Other mini-documentaries Michaels has produced includes a tribute to the old WLLE-AM radio station in Raleigh; the story of the NCNAACP’s Truth and Hope Poverty Tour Through North Carolina; a tribute to national NAACP Board member Carolyn Q. Coleman; the student honorees of the NC Legislative Black Caucus Scholarship Foundation; the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project; and the story of former NBA/Olympics basketball legend "Pogo" Joe Caldwell.

        Michaels is happily married and the father of two extraordinary children. His family lives in North Carolina.