Photograph of George Kirby, Ben Chavis and Angela Davis, and unknown supporter.
Ben Chavis (1948 - ) is originally from Oxford, North Carolina. He was a minister from the United Church of Christ's Commission for Racial Justice at the time of this photograph in 1971. The UCC Commission asked him to travel around North Carolina to help organize boycotts of the school de-segregation process in the late 60s and early 70s. Chavis arrived in Wilmington in 1971.
Chavis, George Kirby, and Angela Davis became part of the Wilmington Ten protest over the integration process in the New Hanover County schools. During this time, black students actively protested what they considered racial injustice in regards to their treatment in what had previously been all-white schools. In addition, they protested the assumption that desegregation should happen with blacks making all the needed changes, such as closing down the all-black schools and making only black students change schools. The demonstrations led to increased violence between blacks and whites, ending with burned buildings and two people dead. Chavis was one of the ten people charged with starting the violence and arson. He and the other members of the Wilmington Ten were convicted and sentenced to 23-24 years in a controversial trial, but Governor Jim Hunt freed most of the group in 1979. On December 31, 2012, Governor Beverly Perdue officially pardoned the Wilmington Ten.
George Kirby was one of the boycott activists involved in the Wilmington Ten and was the 11th member of the group. He was indicted on the charges, but jumped bail and lived as a fugitive for several years, never having served time. According to Kirby, he had been involved in peaceable protests for civil rights and had not been a part of any organized militant coalition, as had been charged. He died in 1997.
Angela Davis (1944 - ) is a political activist, author, and scholar who helped to galvanize worldwide attention on the trial of the Wilmington Ten and the campaign to free them.