Home Lifestyle RAMBLINGS: A look back at Ben Chavis

RAMBLINGS: A look back at Ben Chavis

I was watching a news show last week when one of the guest commentators was identified as Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

The topic being discussed was the possibility of a third-party candidate having a decent chance of winning the presidency in 2024. Pointed out in the news segment was the fact that there have been only three times that a third party has come anywhere remotely close to winning the presidency: Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 when he tried to regain the presidency by running as a member of the Bull Moose Party; and Ross Perot, multi-millionaire businessman, who ran in 1992 and 1996.

The moderator of the news show noted that voters in 2024 might not be enthralled by the possibility of choosing between two lackluster octogenarians if Biden and Trump are their parties’ nominees for the presidency.

I did a little research and discovered that the guest commentator, Dr. Chavis, was none other than the same Ben Chavis who rose to international prominence in 1971 as the leader of the Wilmington Ten in North Carolina, civil rights activists who were unjustly convicted of committing arson.

As the oldest of the ten, Chavis received the longest sentence of 34 years in the N.C. prisons. Chavis ended up spending two years in prison when three key witnesses from the trial admitted they had made up their stories after being pressured by local law enforcement authorities. In 2012, N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue issued “Pardons of Innocence” to each member of the Wilmington Ten.


My dad was working at the McCain Correctional Center in Hoke County when the young Ben Chavis was transferred from Central Prison in Raleigh to the much smaller McCain facility.

I remember my dad telling me how impressed he was of Chavis, who he said spent much of his free time reading and studying materials related to correspondence courses he was taking. Always polite, he often liked to share with my dad interesting aspects of the courses he was taking.

The appearance of Dr. Chavis on the news show was truly a pleasant blast from the past. Dr. Chavis has done well.

Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.

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