Just a few days ago, a street in West Philadelphia was renamed W. Wilson Goode Senior Way. Members of Philadelphia City Council approved the change months ago in honor of the city’s first black mayor. Here’s the problem with that. That wasn’t Mayor Goode’s only first, for history will remind us that the mayor was the first to authorize a bombing of a home in Philadelphia.
It was on May 13th, 1985, a day of infamy when 11 men, women, and children were bombed to death, an act that ricocheted around the world and became known as the MOVE bombing. An entire city block burned that day as city firefighters turned off the water to let the fire do its deadly work.
When the sign was changed, the streets erupted in protests of people angered by the street name change. Goode, who has since joined the religious business, bless the protesters and said no one should be judged by one bad day in their life. In this age of mass incarceration, such a sentiment has never been used to show forgiveness to average men and women, not to speak of compassion.
Few in the city can forget the fires of Osage to a bomb being dropped from a police helicopter. But this name change is an attempt to try to rewrite history. It shows us how very, very far away black politicians are from the souls of black folk.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.