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Interview with Benjamin Wonce and Wayne Moore,  April 17, 2009 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Benjamin Wonce and Wayne Moore,  April 17, 2009
Date:
April 17, 2009
Description:
Wayne Moore and Benjamin Wonce talk about the events that lead up to the boycott of New Hanover County Schools in February 1971. Both men participated in the boycott. Moore was arrested and was a member of the group known as the Wilmington 10. Wonce was not arrested but testified for the defense at the trial of the Wilmington 10.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Moore, Wayne and Wonce, Benjamin Interviewer: Parnell, Jerry Date of Interview: 4/17/2009 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 70 min

Parnell: Today is April 17, 2009. I'm Jerry Parnell, coordinator of Special Collections at Randall Library, UNC Wilmington. We're in the Helen Hagan room in Randall Library's Special Collections, and with us today are Wayne Moore of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Benjamin Wonce of Wilmington. Good afternoon, and thank you all for agreeing to come by and sharing your story. We're here today to talk about the events that led up to the boycott of the New Hanover County schools in February of 1971 and the events that followed the boycott. First, if you would, would you give me your full name, and tell me where you were living in Wilmington, and any kind of information you want to tell me about your family, and start with Wayne.

Moore: I'm Wayne Moore, and I was living in Wilmington, (technical noise) down the street. In 1971, I was attending New Hanover High School. Sorry, sorry. I was attending John D. Hoggard High School. When the desegregation of schools first occurred in 1968, I went to New Hanover High for one year.

Parnell: And Benjamin?

Wonce: My name is Benjamin Wonce, and during that time I was living at 807 North Sixth Street, where I was born and raised, and I was attending New Hanover High school at that time and place.

Parnell: Well, let's start with what led up to the boycott in the beginning. What caused the boycott?

Moore: The boycott--the initial cause of the boycott was the closing of Williston High School, the only African-American high school in Wilmington, and it forced desegregation of the schools. We were thrust out of the only culture, the only tradition that we knew, and thrown immediately into a hostile environment where we were neither accepted nor appreciated. We weren't allowed to bring any of our old traditions from Williston over to Hoggard or New Hanover High School. So that made it a traumatic experience for most of the African-American students at that time. Because although we wanted access to white institutions, we didn't want to be uprooted from our own. That was a traumatic experience. In the black high schools, teachers were more hands-on. They were more hands-on, and they assisted us in ways that we didn't receive at the white high school. For instance, I remember in elementary school, teachers buying students shoes when their parents couldn't afford shoes. So our teachers were more like surrogates.

Parnell: It was a family.

Moore: It was a family thing. It was a community thing. It was a community-based institution. For instance, the principal--well, at that time, it was Booker T. Washington. I think he may have been named after the famous Booker T. Washington. But anyway, the principal at Williston was more like the mayor of the community, you see? And so we lost all that. And it just wasn't students; it was teachers and administrators that were uprooted and displaced. So it was a traumatic experience all the way around.

Parnell: Did you attend Williston High School before you were put in Hoggard?

Moore: I attended Williston Junior High School. And see, the thing was is--the schools were all connected. There was Gregory Elementary, there was Williston Senior High School, and there was Williston Junior High School on the other side. Now, there was a ramp. There was a ramp between Williston Junior High School and Williston Senior High School. If we got caught crossing that ramp, we got in big trouble. But so that was a thing that we looked forward to, the opportunity to go the land of maroon and gold, because those were the school colors. We went to the marching band. The marching band meant so much to the community, to hear those drums roll. You know, they're marching down the street, the pride of the Azalea Festival Parade. We lost all of that. We lost all of that. We lost a big part of our culture. Because despite what people say, there were two separate cultures in America at that time, you see? And neither one understood the other. And that's what made the whole situation not conducive to a quality education. At that time, for either white students or black students, because we rioted most of the time. And when we weren't rioting, it was such a tenseness in the air, that the whole environment wasn't conducive to education.

Parnell: Do you think it would have worked better if whites were brought to Williston?

Moore: Not necessarily. It should have been by choice. See, when there's choice, you're responsible for placing yourself in that environment. Desegregation was going to occur one way or the other, but to traumatically force young people into an environment where they're not accepted and not appreciated, and didn't understand, that was traumatic. Desegregation occurred in places like Fayetteville, Durham, Wilson, without closing Hillside in Durham or E.E. Smith in Fayetteville, or Wilson Fike in Wilson. I mean, there were instances where the desegregation worked, but there wasn't that kind of trauma. The situation in Wilmington was traumatic.

Parnell: Why more so than other places, you think?

Moore: Well . . . do you want to speak to that?

Wonce: My opinion, I agree with Wayne that probably that was the beginning of emotional steps toward the boycott. I think that was simmering for two or three years. The closing of Williston happened in 1968, and then two years down the road, some other things happened, and I think that that was the beginning of what we call the end, but it was not the only event.

Parnell: The only event, right.

Wonce: There was other events to follow that probably brought on those emotions or raw emotions from the core back up to the top, and then caused the boycott to take place, and then eventually the city to explode. I also think that your question about whether if they were to place white students in Williston would have helped. Not necessarily. I'd say the same thing he says, but with the addition that I think that should have been tried, because we don't know. Maybe not necessarily, but it should have been a test. I think choice--in a lot of situations, choice--and of course Governor Terry Sanford had to deal with the choice. The choice went along with the community. Everybody was saying it really didn't work because one reason or another. The freedom of choice--there still was a way of keeping the blacks in unequal school systems and so on and so forth. But anyway, they did away with it. At the point of doing away with it, in my opinion, it should have at least been tested as a test case to place some here, to place some there, and let's see how we can mingle. I think the closing of the school--I agree 100 percent with Wayne--the closing of the school itself shut down the community emotionally, and in a lot of ways physically, as far as we traveled and go to and from that institution. So I think, yeah. To answer your question, yeah, I think it should have been tried. Tested at least. And it never was. It was just a force, like, This is it." And when they closed Williston, not only did they close it, there wasn't a proper progression.

Parnell: It was overnight.

Wonce: In the newspaper--that's right. In the newspaper, it came out that they were holding a meeting down at Brogden Hall, on the council of New Hanover, about the closing of Williston, and that's the day it happened. When we left that meeting--when all the parents and all the concerned citizens left that meetings--that was it. It was closed that summer, and they started immediately shifting people here and there, shifting people there and there. So I think that began it, that most of the upheaval at that beginning, then in 1970 some other things happening, and then right on into '71.

Moore: Well yeah. I think the riots in Wilmington could have been avoided. There have been people who've suggested that had Ben Chavis not come to town that there would not have been riots. I can categorically express this thought: The riots would have occurred whether or not Ben Chavis had ever come to down, because the volcano had been boiling for years in this town. For instance, Ben Chavis wasn't here in 1968 when the city was torn apart.

Parnell: People don't hear much about the '68 riots, yeah.

Moore: And see, the thought--Hubert Eaton, for instance, could have played a great role, and important role, in helping to ease the tension in this town. Had he come forward--you see, the trauma--Williston closing was like a death in the entire African-American community. It was like losing a beloved relative, a brother or a sister, someone close to you. That's what it was like. Where was Hubert Eaton? Nowhere. Nowhere to be found. If he had come, for instance, to that meeting in that summer of '68, and told us, and expressed to us his vision for closing Williston. What was the need? Why did he think Williston needed to be closed? For instance, Leland Newsome--or I think his name was Leland.

Wonce: He was on the school board, yeah.

Moore: He was on the school board. These guys made a motion to close one of the most viable institutions in the African-American community without consulting the African-American community.

Parnell: Why do you think Dr. Eaton didn't come forward?

Moore: I have no idea. I have no idea. But I've always been of the mind, and this may be controversial, but Dr. Eaton was about his self-aggrandizement. He wanted to elevate himself. For instance, the black community loved Tom Jervey, because he was our spokesman. The white community looked at Dr. Eaton as our spokesman, but where was our spokesman at our time of greatest need? Nowhere to be found. The guy who set forth, who filed lawsuits for desegregation to desegregate the schools, the guy who was at the forefront of the move to close Williston High school, was nowhere to be found at our time of greatest need. You see, so that's my thoughts about it.

Parnell: You say Tom Jervey was respected by the African-American community.

Wonce: Very well, very well.

Moore: By the grass roots community. Now, Hubert Eaton was respected by a lot of people of the African-American elite. But the majority, the masses of the people in Wilmington, the masses of the people who attended Williston High School, the masses of the parents of the students at Williston High School were grass roots people. They weren't African-American elite.

Parnell: Did Tom Jervey write about as much in his paper?

Wonce: I want to say that, in my memory, Tom Jervey, in his paper, never missed a beat about what was going on in the community.

Parnell: It's hard to find back copies of the tract.

Wonce: I want to hasten to add that Tom Jervey also had a following too. I mean, not only, he was a well-respected man, him and his family. I agree that Eaton had the most of the elite, of the doctors of the dentists that were black, and some of the school teachers. We could go on. But Tom Jervey also had some of that following. I want to go just a step further from the closing of Williston, because that's a situation in my mind, and I've discussed it with Wayne, that I think that broke the camel's back--two in particular--actually where somebody said, "This is it. Enough. And we're going to boycott." And start here in the school because that's where most things was going on. On December the 18th, 1970, eighteen black students were arrested outside of New Hanover High School, okay? I was one of those students. And we were brought before the municipal judge, who at the time was Napoleon Barefoot. And we were treated rather harshly. I mean, old documents can look at this. We were guilty before we ever got there. We were all charged with disorderly conduct.

Parnell: Okay, disorderly conduct.

Wonce: Everybody was charged with disorderly conduct. But see, outside of New Hanover High School, there was two establishments. There was the Varsity, both restaurants, little hanging places for students, and the Wildcat. There were white students all over. I mean, it was the last day of school before Christmas, that Friday. And there were white students and black students, but there was an incident. Somebody was supposedly throwing rocks. When the police came out and they brought the paddy wagon, nothing but black students were grabbed up off the street. I mean, just totally snatched up. Matter of fact, I'll never forget the one black female that got arrested, who had a dress. She was pulled and dragged down the street, her dress flowing over her head, and it was just--it was terrible. That incident now, once again, brought the feelings from Williston, began to come up again, began to ebb and flow. Then finally--I'll say finally--in January, the year--that was in '70, 1970. December of '70. In January, right there at New Hanover--there was things going on at Hoggard too--but right in New Hanover High School, students was getting suspended at an alarming rate, and they were all black. Any time there was an incident between blacks and whites, it was a racial matter, no matter what the--if it was over a pencil, it was a racial matter. If a black and white student was involved, the black student was suspended. At that point, we asked for a meeting, somewhere around January the 26th, somewhere around that area. It was 1971 with Mr. Bellamy, a guy who immediately allowed us to have that meeting.

Parnell: Now you say "we." Who was we?

Wonce: Concerned parents on behalf of...

Parnell: Parents and students.

Wonce: There was just about three or four. I mean, about three or four parents, some students--some students who may be faceless at this time or nameless. But Miss Rose, Patricia Rose--go ahead.

Moore: Let me say, Heyward Bellamy went out of his way. He went out of his way to try to calm things down and try to hear the voices of the students and the parents.

Wonce: Early on.

Moore: Early on. From the beginning. I have nothing but praise for Heyward Bellamy. But he wasn't able to do as much as he would have liked to have done because of forces outside. I think there may have been some political forces involved in the whole thing. But Heyward Bellamy tried everything he could to try to make the transition as easy as possible, after the decision had been made. So I have nothing but praise for Heyward Bellamy.

Wonce: Like I said, he met with us, and he met with--there was a handful, just a handful of people at that time. I would say nine or ten that went down to Hemingway Hall and met with the--and talked about the appalling conditions we felt in the school. Especially New Hanover. At the time, we had a principal that we felt was very racist. His name was John Scott. We felt was targeting--well there's some evidence to that too, and we saw things that went on that we just couldn't believe that students got suspended. Anyway, Dr. Bellamy met with us, very cordial, and he listened, and we told him that-- at the time, we had some undeveloped demands. They weren't developed. There were some things that we in the room--we weren't a committee. We just happened to meet. It happened by happenstance. Some people spread the word that where was a meeting going to take place down at Hemingway Hall. Some of us went; a lot of people didn't. And we talked about some things that we wanted done. We wanted to see as far as sports was concerned, because a lot of great athletes was being tossed off the team for some minor infractions that wouldn't have happened if it was a white students. Different things. He said he would get back and he would try, but before that happened, a couple of days later--just a few days later--the voice went out that a boycott would be called in the black community, and a place--we had a place to go to, and not to go to school. When it first started, only about 15 students showed up, about 15 or 16 people. And (inaudible) . But to answer your question, that's how it began.

Parnell: Where were y'all going to meet?

Wonce: Over on Fourth Street. There was an old store. What was the store? Old building. Somebody allowed the organizer--I wasn't the organizer at the time; I was just a concerned student. We met on Fourth. It was Fourth and--what was that? You know where Georgia Supermarket was, right across the street?

Parnell: Was it Harnett?

Wonce: Harnett. Right off the corner of Fourth and Harnett. Very good. Fourth and Harnett. And we met there the first one or two days. But then somebody said we had to get out. I don't even remember how it happened, said we had to move, and that's when we decided--because the crowds began to get bigger too. Not so much we had to get out, the crowd began to get bigger, and we had no chairs, we had--and it was an old cement floor, and we had lights, and that's it. So it wasn't a conducive place for meeting. And somebody said, "Well, anyway, we got to get out, because of (inaudible) " and that's when we began to check with the churches in the area and the community. One thing led to another, and we ended up in Gregory United Methodist Church.

Moore: Congregational.

Parnell: Congregational Church, yeah.

Wonce: Congregational Church.

Parnell: Was there ever a group that say, "Okay, we're the organizers?"

Wonce: At first, no. At first there was a young lady, and maybe one or two people--Patricia Rose. She's no longer living. I don't think she did anything [ph?] since that time-- who kind of spearheaded the boycott. But I don't remember a committee. Not until we got in the church, when we said, "We need a committee to organize and be more day to day with this thing, hands on, administrative." And we were all young. There were nobody--

Parnell: Yeah, I was going to say, y'all were in tenth grade maybe?

Wonce: No, I was in twelfth.

Parnell: Twelfth grade.

Wonce: Most of us were in the twelfth grade. Twelfth and eleventh, and maybe a tenth-grader or two. But no one was over twelfth grade. And so we were very (inaudible) and we made it, and one early--I did want to say this the record. Early on, we made it clear there would be no violence. I want to say that. There's some other things that came up that had nothing to do with the boycott that I think people exploited it, and...

Moore: Well, people exploited the whole situation, and that's...

Wonce: Yeah, the whole--you're right.

Moore: Same thing happens in other cities. You get a bunch of people who take advantage of a situation. Because everybody involved in that boycott initially were followers of the Martin Luther King doctrine of nonviolence. And so that was understood from the beginning that this is what we're about. We just wanted to voice our concerns, to be heard, to have someone hear our voices. And so that was all we wanted. Once things moved into the church and Leroy Gibson and his crowd, Rights of White People, his band of people came through and fired at the church, I think somebody shot Reverend Vaughn. The people from the community--a bunch of students, young students at the church--a bunch of people flocked into the church saying that they were going to protect us and wasn't going to let anything happen to us. And so I don't even know what point it got out of hand.

Wonce: I do. I remember. Because at every press conference we held, we pushed it, and it's in the papers now. We did make a statement. I'll never forget. We made a statement that if our demands wasn't met by a certain time, we would take other action. Now, there wasn't no violence at this time, and we already had a plan to expand a massive boycott of not only the schools, but the stores, and all downtown. And that was our strategy. And everybody, and the press, you know, it's always they asked questions. But what is that? We didn't say, because we wanted to withhold our strategy. Well, we were going to go out to the school with cars and everything and matter of fact, we did do that. We did do that. After that statement was made, that's when I believe, if I can remember, that they people wanted to exploit. And we had already had threats on the church, period. Calls would come in to Reverend Eugene Templeton's house, (inaudible) , to get those inward out of there, and so on and so forth. And the Wednesday night after we made that statement, the first firing was fired upon the church. And we called the police immediately. Ben Chavis himself was the one who talked to the police. He talked to them outside the church. He said we were receiving fire. There were bullet holes in the church. How can--they wasn't going to accept it. "Well, we don't believe it." Now, Thursday night, the same thing happened. They come back, and the next thing they do is they put up a barricade around a four-block community around the church. That didn't stop anybody. Reverend Vaughn got shot, again like he said, with the barricade up. And he didn't believe us. He was out--during the time Reverend Vaughn came in, he was the minister of the First Baptist Church, he came out to tell us to go home because this was not the way to handle it. And we was staying in the church because we were trying to symbolize our position. We weren't going anywhere till we had our demands met. We were doing everything we thought following Martin Luther King's tradition. That's where we were going. And he was standing out talking to someone. He was talking to someone, telling us to go home; somebody broke through the barricade, shotgun blast hit him in the leg.

Parnell: Well, what were your demands? What were y'all...

Wonce: Oh, boy. Years ago. I'll tell you, I remember some of them, and the most prominent ones were, one, those students suspended and expelled from New Hanover High School be reinstated. Number two--not number two; it just could be whatever order it is. But in my mind, number one, number two. Number two, that black administrators--remember, he pointed out that we didn't have any. We didn't have any people in the administrator. Not any, at the time. Not an administrator. We had black teachers that moved from Williston, but no administrators. One coach I remember, E.A. Corbin, they kept him an administrative position. We wanted more black administrators hired.

Moore: Coaches.

Wonce: Coaches, and so on and so forth. At the time, we didn't have this, because they were--well, anyway, that was our demands. Well, some of them.

Moore: And the Martin Luther King celebration. Because his birthday had come and past.

Parnell: So it was January.

Wonce: Right. Right.

Parnell: Now, that was also before we had a holiday.

Wonce: Oh, that was before we had the national holiday. Because the national holiday didn't come until 1980s.

Parnell: But you all were trying to get it started.

Wonce: We were trying to get recognition of those kind of events. More black history taught in the schools. Even at that time, we were talking about black history. I remember that. And just...

Moore: They were going to give us an African-American history class as an elective, but we wanted it to be compulsory. Not only black students...

Parnell: That everybody got it.

Moore: That everybody got it. For instance, you think about their kids--I mean, adults our age who still don't know about the 1898 resurrection, you see? I mean, insurrection. Sorry. Insurrection, sorry.

laughter

Moore: The resurrection. It should have been a resurrection, of souls and hearts and minds. But the thing is, everybody should know--if this is American history, if this is North Carolina history, then every student in North Carolina, at least, should know about the history of their state and things that occurred in one of the largest port cities in the state. But that wasn't happening. So we wanted it to be compulsory, not just as an elective.

Wonce: Let me go inside the boycott for a minute. It's important to know there were some very positive things going on at that church. We were having, we were just happy to have people hanging outside. It wasn't the thing. We wasn't outside smoking dope, hanging around. People had to be inside that church. We had workshops going on, workshops with, once again, nonviolent theory.

Parnell: Who was leading workshops?

Moore: Patricia Rose.

Wonce: Patricia Rose, myself, different meetings, different black history events. I mean, we were just talking positive. We were talking about black--a word that wasn't very well liked back then--black liberation. We were talking about liberation. We were recognizing some of the other movements that went around the country, such as going on in California with the Black Panthers and so on and so forth.

Moore: And see, that's one of the things that needs to be cleared up. It was the students. It was not Ben Chavis. Ben Chavis came in at the point he came in. He was more fluent in describing things and...

Parnell: And he had been involved in some other...

Moore: Yeah, right.

Wonce: Yeah, yeah. He helped us with organizing better. There's no question around that.

Moore: Organize the press conferences, and stuff like that. We were already-- the boycott was in the making long before Ben Chavis ever came to town.

Wonce: He helped put the committee together. I mean, he did some things that was--I mean, that was good. But as far as him just coming in and being the agitator of something, there was no agitator. The agitator was the event that took place in Wilmington. And no matter what, Ben Chavis, like he said, Ben Chavis or not-- Benjamin Wonce or not, it would have happened some kind of way.

Parnell: Somebody else would have been there.

Moore: Well, see, the thing is, is Leroy Gibson shooting at that church, sending his people--having his people patrol the African-American community, his people would drive up and down Castle Street. Adults in that community weren't going to put up with that. It had nothing to do with the students, you see?

Parnell: Was he ever arrested?

Wonce: I remember the name. I remember . . .

Moore: Not for that event. Yeah, he was arrested in connection with bombing a Jewish synagogue.

Wonce: Some kind of bombing.

Parnell: But nothing with the boycott.

Wonce: Not only that. Not only was he not arrested for that, there were no white-- when it came down to it, the only people, if you look back at 1972, when they made the indictments, they talking about investigation that took a year to reveal who was responsible. Now, the falsity of that is who was responsible for shooting up Gregory's church? They never investigated it. Even though there was blinding evidence, I mean, overwhelming evidence that somebody was going in there shooting at us. Before anybody brought a gun to the church, before anybody brought a weapon to the church, there were people shooting up the church. They never investigated that. They wanted to blame somebody for 1971, and the only part of the community they wanted to blame was the black community. So I could go further.

Moore: I'm going to give you an example. Now, John Godwin, wrote Black Wilmington and the North Carolina Way--I mean he did a 10 year study of the case. Now he doesn't really paint Ben Chavis in a good light, you know, which I can understand that. But his investigation, his independent investigation--this is a white guy I'm talking about, came to the conclusion that the majority of the Wilmington Ten could not have done it, you see or did not have done it. I mean a 10 year investigation. So when you-- why did this happen, you know? How could so many people be so innocent and so many people thinking you're so guilty. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an angel, you see. I was involved in fights at the high school, you see.

Wonce: Not a lot of them were involved in a fight, but the thing is none of them (inaudible) saying they don't want no fights.

Moore: We were charged with burning the--you know. . .

Parnell: Arson.

Moore: Fifteen people initially charged--16 people initial charged with burning a--it doesn't take 16 people to burn a building down. And the paint the Wilmington Ten as some kind of organization. The Wilmington Ten was not an organization. Most of us didn't even know each other. Well, some of us didn't even know each other.

Wonce: At the time we didn't.

Moore: I met Ben Chavis at trial, just before we were going to trial is when I met Ben Chavis for the first time, you see. So the thing is it was just a whole entire situation.

Wonce: I was in college when the indictment came down and it was unbelievable in my head because I knew the people that was involved in the boycott. And if there was a boycott, now there was a lot of--in fact I want to say for the record, there was still going on in the communities we had nothing to do with what--for the boycott, it had nothing to do with the boycott, it had to do with exploitation of the time. People grabbing, feeling the time, to rob, loot and act--and now black as well as white. I'm not trying to exclude the black community. There's some blacks that took advantage of this too, but it had nothing to do with that church, you know. But, you know, everything was to be blamed on the boycott, everything going to be blamed on--every burning that took place on a white establishment they were charged with. I didn't even see some of these people at some of the rallies. I didn't even see them.

Parnell: You said you didn't meet Ben Chavis 'til the day before your trial.

Moore: Well, not the day before the trial.

Parnell: Well I mean right before trial. But you were in the church, right?

Moore: I heard him speak. You know, he come--

Parnell: Okay. You were in the church.

Moore: He had Chili and somebody else for body guards and he'd come and he'd go, he'd come and he'd go. I was in the church, yes. I was in the church and I would hear him speak. As a matter of fact, you know, in the book of. . .

Wonce: There were 500 students in the church.

Parnell: There was 500 kids?

Wonce: Oh, yes it started out with only a few, but by the end of the week he had 500 students for every day showing up. A matter of fact, the school issued a statement that the school was so-- and because there was some white kids stayed on too because they wanted to be involved, you know, they thought something going to break out of the school. But most of the kids were down there at the church rallying. So there were so many students that missed school, they issued a statement once they may have to close the schools because there were so many students refusing to go to school. And all of them wasn't in the church; some of them just wanted to stay home and run in the street. But those sincere people, most of them blacks, I ain't going to say all of them were sincere, in that church, most of those who were sincere in that church were there. And, yes, people like Wayne and James McKoy, they came but I'm saying, I don't remember them being in any kind of position even in the position of the boycott, much less, you know.

Parnell: Where did they get your name from?

Moore: That is a mystery to me. Now I was involved, you know, in marches. And I was more closely aligned with Golden Frinks.

Wonce: Now, I agree.

Moore: Now, I knew Golden Frinks, but the Golden Frinks didn't get to Wilmington until long after Ben Chavis had gone, you know. I mean, Golden showed up. . .

Wonce: Not long but he got there in March, late March.

Moore: He showed up in March and we used to go down to Allen Hall and Ben down, you know. . .

Wonce: I was part of that.

Moore: They had--you know, we had marches and stuff like that and maybe pictures were taken of me and actually we went on a march with Allen Hall. Maybe that's where Allen Hall, you know, because I didn't know him prior to that, you know?

Wonce: The poor people marched in 1972 in Washington. That was done by Hosea Williams who was a, you know, a commandant of. . .

Parnell: Of King's.

Wonce: Hosea Williams, Bernard whoever came in with a bodyguard. There were several of the guys who left behind the SCLC that did (inaudible) from--and we thought it would be nice for us and three of them who'd been through all of that to join and we did. We joined--took a U-haul (inaudible) and we marched to Washington. Now maybe they got. . .

Moore: Rode in the back of a U-haul.

Wonce: Woo, that was a tough one.

Moore: See there was no organization.

Parnell: Right.

Moore: See and that's what people really don't understand. There was no organization outside of the boycott. There was no conspiracy to do this, that, and the other, you know, from top down, that I'm aware of, that I ever been aware of.

Wonce: Well take and one thing, and you correct me if I'm wrong. You know, we've been friends, you know, I mean, we grew closer after this than we were before it. But we knew each other. But we definitely grew closer at Shaw University when we had a chance to re-meet. But one of the things that the conspiracy stated that--I mean in the conspiracy theory stated that Ben Chavis, Wayne and (inaudible) Kay McKoy would meet over to Ann Shepard's house and make up fire bombs, or something.

Moore: Well, that's what Allen Hall testified.

Wonce: I know, but that was crazy to me. Ain't nobody I know of was going down to Houston Moore where she lived making up anything.

Moore: And that's not to say it did happen.

Wonce: But nobody I knew from church.

Parnell: Y'all weren't involved.

Wonce: Not even her, because, you know, when we began to stay, she stayed with us. And they asked me, I testified. I was brought in as the only witness and Wayne Matthew our attorney.

Moore: No, it was Matthew Hunnible [ph?] was his name.

Wonce: Matthew Hunnible, his first name Matthew.

Moore: Yes, Matthew Hunnible.

Wonce: Okay. He called me. Yeah, he asked me was she there at the church the night that she was supposed to be. . . yes, she was there. And then prosecutor got at me, "How in the world you could be so sure all those people you say was there?" This woman was white and she was over 500 pounds.

Parnell: You couldn't miss her.

Wonce: How could you miss her?

Moore: Yes, she was 500 pounds, every bit of it.

Wonce: She was there. She stayed right with us. I got to give it to her, she was a great lady.

Moore: Nice lady.

Parnell: How many white people were there in the church?

Wonce: Ann Shepard.

Moore: Ann Shepard.

Parnell: Her and Templetons. Were they there?

Wonce: Oh, yes.

Moore: The Templetons.

Parnell: Okay. Just a couple. Did you get a lot of support from the white community?

Moore: Well, not initially. The United Church of Christ sponsored Ben's. . .

Parnell: Trip, yes.

Moore: . . . trip down. And after we were arrested they provided support. But they weren't that involved at that point initially--point other than Ben Chavis--other than them being the sponsors of the Commission for Racial Justice, which Ben worked for.

Wonce: I remember, the greatest support I remember coming from the community was once again Haywood Bellamy and if I saw him today I would shake his hand.

Moore: I'm going to talk to him.

Wonce: He came out in the newspaper, said, "These are our kid children, no matter what you--whether you agree with it, these are our children, it's our community. We need to give--we need to hear what they're trying to say." I thought that was--for the time, 1971, a man of his position saying that in the press. I thought that was. . .

Moore: And especially with the political climate being the way that it was.

Wonce: He wasn't saying. . .

Parnell: He went out on a limb.

Wonce: He wasn't saying, "Those children," he said, "These are our children."

Moore: Yes, and. . .

Wonce: And he was superintendent.

Moore: My mother, God bless her, she's deceased now, but she loved him to death. She thought he was an outstanding man from the beginning.

Wonce: He was.

Moore: And to this day, to this day I still think he was outstanding in that whole situation. Because the whole--it got out of hand and the thing is it never should have gotten out of hand because we were just students wanting to. . .

Wonce: Be heard.

Moore: . . . be heard and to be educated in an environment that was conducive to learning. That's all that we ever wanted. That's all that we ever wanted. We wanted to bring some of our stuff over from Williston, that's all that we wanted, you know. And we wanted someone to hear our voices. We were young but we wanted someone to hear our voices. And our voices were heard. And the fact that it escalated into a riot, you know, says something about the lack of leadership more so than anything else. There was a leadership in this community. . .

Wonce: In the community.

Moore: . . . both in the black community and in the white community.

Wonce: Yes, yes, in the community. And once again we keep talking about riots. I want to talk riots synonymous with the boycott, because I'm going to be honest with you. . .

Parnell: Because there were two separate events.

Wonce: . . . they're two separate entities. And they make-- when you hear the Wilmington Ten, you'll always hear--I'm glad Wayne is saying--you always here if they were an organization, as if they were some kind of group that like the Chicago Seven. No, not--no, not--they wasn't, they wasn't. There wasn't no underground--there wasn't this, there wasn't nothing. It was some individuals who the prosecutor picked out for some reason. I don't know the reason. And Wayne may know it better than I do but they picked on for that for some reason--well you just speculate--

Moore: The thing is, and I think it's important and I was up in Pender County this morning trying to retrieve a transcript of our trial. Anyone who reads the transcript of our trial in an objective manner, you know, will come to the conclusion that any rational person would come to, you know, and that's that these people were railroaded off to prison, you know. Like I said, I'm not an angel, you know.

Wonce: The court finally said that.

Moore: They charged me with disorderly conduct in the school system, you know, I was as guilty as anybody, you know. But to charge me with burning, shooting at police and firemen and burning an unoccupied dwelling, you know, that's something that I would never have done.

Parnell: You were at Shaw, right? I mean after high school.

Moore: Right, I went to Shaw University.

Parnell: When you were arrested you were going to Shaw University?

Moore: No, no. I went to Shaw University after we were released on bond.

Parnell: Oh, after, okay.

Moore: As soon as we were released on bond the first time. We spent time 10 months, about 10 months in prison. We spent about 10 months--I started at Shaw University September of 1973. So we were, you know, I was arrested May. . .

Wonce: You see I'll never get now because one of the things where, just when they were indicted I was at my first year at Southeast Community College in Whiteville I got a grant and some people in the school system helped me get there. One of them was a counselor, Ms. Lamb. I forget what her first name was; her last name was Lamb. She helped me to graduate because I had already been expelled. And then when they held a special--some kind of little special school thing in the summer of '71 so we could graduate. Some of the students who were expelled, some of the black students expelled and several of us went to it and we went through classes and we did graduate in '71. And they helped me, you know, they thought there some problems, they helped me get into college. Let me say this though, to piggy back what Wayne is saying. When, I wasn't arrested and they were. And when I saw it, I never could understand why. And when I got to Shaw and before I left Whiteville, just as they was arrested, I was at Whiteville and they got arrested, '72, the fall of '72 I was there, someone left a newspaper clipping in my mailbox. All the students had mailboxes in college--in my mailbox and it said, "You'd better tell what you know." I never found out who did it. They had some circle and under the caption was--it had something about the indictment, "You better tell what you know."

Moore: You better tell what you know.

Wonce: I didn't know anything. I knew this, those guys that they had arrested couldn't have done what they said. I didn't believe anybody could--anybody connected to that boycott in my mind, that, you know, that could have done this. That's their leaders. But not only the leaders, I didn't see--you know, and I can't vouch for that 100%. But, you know, these guys, they didn't stay overnight on some occasions. Am I right?

Moore: I don't think I stayed any night. I went home almost every--as a matter of fact the night that Mike's Grocery was burned, I was babysitting my nephews, you know, my sister and her husband went out.

Parnell: Mike's was burned in '68 also wasn't it?

Moore: I don't know.

Wonce: Mike's could have been burned. Quite a few things were burned in '68, the night that Dr. Kind was killed, yes.

Moore: I don't know. And, you know, to something that he was saying--because I was expelled too, I got expelled. See the people that really should be recognized in all of this thing for, you know, to helping out in the transition and helping students to go on with their lives, Carter Newsome. He's never mentioned in anything that anybody writes, I mean, but he was big. He got funds to open an alternative school, a night school right there in Hanover. As a matter because that's where I was arrested and I was arrested right there in New Hanover. I was on my way because it was like a co-op thing where as you would work during the day and, you know, you get credit for work. I was working at Black's Shirt Factory down on Third Street there. And so I walked--I don't know whether you know where Marstella Street is?

Parnell: Yes.

Moore: But I had walked all the way over to the night school, Hanover, 13th and Dock, you know, and as soon as I got to 13th and Dock a sheriff's car pulled up and said, "Wayne, you need to come with us." You know, but Carter Newsome, I wouldn't have graduated high school if it hadn't been for him pushing that.

Parnell: I've never heard this before about the school.

Moore: You see, there was an alternative school for people who got expelled.

Wonce: It was a school before that.

Moore: Yes.

Moore: It was just for the summer and there was only about seven of us in there. And see I had already gone--I didn't know Carter had started this.

Moore: Yes.

Wonce: But, and that school I was in started amidst some protest, some people didn't think we should, you know--that wasn't a big thing, but some people didn't agree with it. But we all went through and we all graduated. And then we went all down where we was going.

Moore: Yes, I mean, Joe Wright went down to Talidavid [ph?].

Wonce: Right.

Moore: I want to Shaw. I mean everybody went, you know--most of the people because most of the people who were, you know--we wanted an education just like everybody else and we wanted to be in a situation that was conducive to learning. That was the whole idea. We had no focus on, you know, tearing up everything, you know, destroying the city, you know. That was not our focus. We were intent, you know, on creating an environment that was conducive to education.

Wonce: I remember--going to back to Haywood Bellamy again, he came (inaudible) to see where we're going. And that really gave me a boost, you know. We invited him, because he would send in messages and we said, "No, we want to see him down here." So we sent a message back, we wouldn't answer him no more, he would have to come down and talk to us. He did, he did. He showed up with another guy, and he actually sat there and fielded questions at that church. And now, it was hostile now, because they're all black students with a (inaudible) . And he stood there, he fielded questions. And I remember telling him, I said, "Hold up," I told the crowd, "Hold up. This man came down in spite of what's going on. He came down here and said. . . "

Moore: I tell you what, in all of this, you know, if I had my wishes, you know, whatever, I'd build a monument to Haywood Bellamy and I'd build a mausoleum to Hubert Eaton. That may be controversial but that's just the way I feel.

Parnell: Well let's move on just a minute. After you were arrested, you were in jail and then the trial. How long did the trial last?

Moore: The trial lasted six weeks.

Parnell: Six weeks? And how many witnesses against you? You mentioned Allen Hall.

Moore: Well, Allen Hall was the chief witness. I mean he's the only one that really mattered. There was Allen Hall and there was Jerome Mitchell and there was Eric Juniors. But Allen Hall was the only one that really had any impact per se because it was a choice of whether that you believed him, you know, or you believed us. You know, if you believed him and believed that he was a credible witness which would take a stretch of the imagination to find that he was a credible witness.

Wonce: Every one of the three he just named had charges pending against them. Even the kid, Eric--what was the name?

Moore: Juniors, he was 12.

Wonce: He had-- he had already been to juvenile on several occasions, you know, before this.

Parnell: He was 12?

Wonce: Twelve years old. . .

Moore: He was 12 years old.

Wonce: . . . and already been in juvenile on several occasions. I'm telling you what I know because I was--he had already--just check the records if you can, he had already been down--and Allen Hall had assault, I saw the assault he made on a teacher at New Hanover High School. He right there and he was being pending--those charges was pending. Now, Jerome Mitchell, well now, hold on, I think Jerome Mitchell went on to kill somebody, didn't he?

Moore: Yes, Jerome Mitchell had been charged in the murder of a cab driver. I can't recall the cab driver's name right now but he was facing 30 years to life for the murder. So they came to him and said, "Look, what do you know about these guys?"

Wonce: And during that time, you're talking about getting the credible jury?

Moore: Well, the jury selection to begin with, you know, was incredible. I mean, you ask an ex Ku Klux Klansman, "Can you disabuse your mind of the fact that you have been a member of this Klan--this organization for all of your life?" He answered, "Yes." Judge says, "Fine, you can sit on this jury."

Wonce: It was a circus. I wasn't there, I was only at the part I had testified in and I'll never forget Allen Hall's face when he saw me. He act like he act like he'd seen a ghost. And I going to be honest, if there's a question in your mind why I wasn't indicted, I'll never know, I'll never know. I've got my own theories and I won't go on record with those theories, but I'll never know.

Moore: I wish you'd have came forth and took my place.

Wonce: Yes, he wanted me to.

Parnell: And you served what, three years?

Moore: Well, I think it was, you know, you think about it, let's see, 10 and a half months initially, the first time. And then when the Supreme Court refused to hear our case in January of 1976, when I went back to Shaw University, I stayed at Shaw University--no I stayed at Shaw University from 1973 when I came to 1976. The Supreme Court refused to hear our case. We went back to prison until James Hunt reduced our sentences and that I was paroled back to Shaw University actually in '79. So we got a calculator?

Parnell: That's seven years.

Moore: No, it wasn't seven. No that's seven years in prison. See, you have to count the time that I was out, you know, at Shaw University. So, three years I was at Shaw University. So 10 months prior to going to Shaw University and then from January 1976 until '79. So probably three and half.

Parnell: Three and half years, something like that.

Moore: Three and half years, yes.

Parnell: After you got out, you went to Shaw and completed your degree.

Moore: Yes, when I was paroled, went back to Shaw.

Parnell: This is an obvious question, but for the record, how has this affected your life?

Moore: Oh it's been traumatic, it's been a struggle and it's. . .

Parnell: The reason I say it, you seem to have such a good attitude.

Moore: Well, I'm not bitter because--the reason I'm not bitter is because, you know, through it all it's been a growth experience and I've learned a lot. And the thing is, you know, my mother always taught me if you know better, you'll do better. There are people that I want to talk to. I want to talk to some of the detectives in this case, you know, because certainly they had to know who was guilty and who was not guilty or was any of us guilty, you know, or what not. I would like to sit down--I would like to sit down with Judge Martin if he was still alive or I want to sit down with Gilbert Bernett [ph?] to see what his thoughts are. Because there were certainly--you know, any people, any person, any rational human being would have to know that some of these people--I mean, if John Garwin [ph?] did a 10 year study, talking to everybody that was involved in this case except the people I thought that he should have really talked to and the organizers of the boycott. But the thing is is he came to the conclusion that here, you know, he still thinks that Ben Chavis was involved in some kind of way but he feels that most of the defendants, you know, could not have done this.

Wonce: Let me jump on that just one minute. Even if John Garwin would have talked to the organizers, we'll never be able to answer the questions of the violence that erupted in the city with any (inaudible) with any kind of directness because we . . .

Moore: And that's my point, that's my point.

Wonce: We were not part of it.

Moore: That's my point. If you talk to them, you know, you're going to come to the conclusion that any rational person would come to. See, put aside your prejudices whatever they may be. You know, put aside, you know, all kinds of thoughts of someone should pay for the violence. I think the entire community is guilty, you know, of something, of malfeasance, the entire community, African American leaders as well as white leaders of malfeasance because there were kids involved in this and there was a lack of leadership. There was--you had a whole city bereft of leadership, you see, you know, no one to guide the kids. When kids have to organize a boycott to hear their voices, you know, because the parents aren't there, the community leaders aren't there, you know, then it's the community that needs to be held responsible, not 10 people, whoever they may be.

Parnell: Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen year-olds.

Moore: Yes.

Wonce: (inaudible), that's what they did.

Moore: Well that's what they did.

Wonce: They made us scapegoats. You know, the community never did really come together. I remember once after it was all over, I mean that part of it, that segment, we made up some fliers and we were trying to get everything started up again because the issue was still there, all the issue was still there. The violence was over though. And we asked that the black community meet at the Boys Club over on North-- what street, Mcrae Street? Ninth Street?

Moore: Yes, near the Boys club.

Wonce: You know, and they came for the first time. I mean teachers, I mean, you know, people-- I'll never forget, one Sunday they came. And man, when we got in there, there was so much bickering about who didn't do what. And goes back to what you said, if they would have came forward first, we would never have gotten to that point, we wouldn't have to argue about who didn't do what. Because, you know, we had some people who had--surely who had leadership abilities in the black community, white community too. And, you know, I don't know about building anything to anybody. But let me say this, but-- well, I'm going to Haywood one more time. You know, as far as leadership is concerned, if I had to do anything for anybody, he was the only one who actually tried to show leadership and understood the point that he just made that they were kids and they were trying to be heard and we should listen to them.

Moore: And that was the whole thing. It was a situation that should have never gone as far as it did.

Wonce: In our own community (inaudible).

Moore: And that's why, you know, as much respect as I have for Dr. Eaton in other areas, other things that he's done, I think he dropped the ball on this issue. He put it out there, you know, and then he didn't he provide the leadership that was needed at the time, it was most needed. You see there's nothing wrong desegregation. Things needed to happen along those lines. It's the way that they went about it, you know. You don't uproot, you don't usurp an entire community.

Parnell: If they'd only just experimented, it could have been avoided.

Moore: Right. After we got to Hanover, I'll never forget, 10th grade, after I got to Hanover, that was the year I was--in 1968 I was gearing up to go to the famous Williston High School. Man, I was going to play football.

Moore: They hit a drum roll they hit a drum roll.

Wonce: I was going to play football. I was so proud and then they closed it. But, okay, I, like everybody else, I adapted and I went on over to Hanover. But when I got to Hanover, I saw that the building physically was no better than Williston. But why couldn't we do some things, you know? No one looked at it that way.

Moore: They should have eased--just like they did in other communities. You know, you ease the people; you don't traumatize a whole race of people. You don't traumatize young students, you know. It's just like--it's just, you know, to me, it felt like someone had snatched me away from my parents, from my mother, you know, and took me 1,000 miles away, that's just how I felt, you see. But so adults in the community didn't understand that, especially, you know, people like Dr. Eaton. Yes, he had some good ideas. He did some good things in this community. I'm not going to take that away from him. But he dropped the ball when his community needed him the most. That's my thoughts, that--I know Ben has to get to work.

Wonce: All of them, all of the other, Newsome, Leland, Al Newsome I can't remember.

Moore: Well he was like Dr. Eaton's lieutenant.

Wonce: Well, regardless of who he was, I think that him being on the board, you know, he was so avid. I remember he--at that meeting they were sitting in the middle of the gymnasium, all the board members and he was so avid that it need to close. He never stopped to think that there was another alternative. But, you know, I'm going to say--I've got to go--I'm going to say this, once again, if anything needs to be reemphasized greatly in my mind is that there was no adult at the time that really came forth and said, "Let's lead these children on. Let's help," you know, because we were kind of brattish, yes. You know, there was a lot of things going on. Malcolm X had just wrote--I mean the autobiography of Malcolm X hadn't been out four years. I mean people had been reading socially conscious material. Martin Luther King wrote his "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?" in 1968. That was a little bit before he died. I mean there was a lot of things and a lot of information out, so we were real--Middleton, if want to say that. But, yet I think would listen to those people who had--who we thought if we try, you know, if we respect it. They never came forth. I got to go.

Moore: Okay.

Parnell: Are you all together?

Moore: No.

Wonce: No, he can stay.

Parnell: You can stay?

Moore: Well, if you've got some more questions.

Parnell: Yes. Let's talk for a few more minutes. I'm going to let him out.

Moore: Okay.

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