Years ago, while working at one of Philadelphia’s Black-oriented radio stations, I met Mike Africa, who along with Delbert, Eddie and several other MOVE members, came up for an interview at the station.
I remember asking Mike how he got there, ‘by bus?’ I assumed. Mike looked at me and said, matter-of-factly, “No, we ran up here.” He said it as calmly as if he was telling me the time.
I marveled, for the distance from their West Philadelphia home and headquarters, then located at 33rd and Powelton Avenue, to the studios of WHAT-AM, in Fairmount Park, had to be around 10 miles.
Michael Africa was a born runner, who ran like most people walked. Since August, 1978, he has been running around prison yards, for he, like other MOVE people arrested then on trumped-up-murder charges, have been encaged ever since.
Recently, he had occasion to speak about his efforts at parole:
After a 5 month wait, I final got a response back from the parole board, which was denied for the 8th time for most of the same excuses: not admitting guilt, lack of remorse, negative recommendations from the trial judge, negative recommendation from the prosecuting attorney. (The negative report by the trial judge is a new one-they had to dig deep for that one because he’s been dead for over 30 years!)
According to Michael, parole ‘hearings’ are sheer farce, as he explains what’s really going on during these proceedings when it comes to MOVE people:
We’re not in jail for the crime the court convicted us of; we are in jail because of our resistance for asserting our right to self-determination, for upholding our belief in freedom as exampled by our founder, John Africa. Which, as they know, had nothing to do with weapons, but everything to do with a commitment to freedom for all life.
As John Africa himself explained during his closing statement of that 1981 trial entitled, “John Africa vs. the System; “I have been a revolutionary all my life. Since I could understand the word ‘revolution’ I have been a revolutionary because don’t you see, a revolutionary simply means ‘to turn, to generate, to activate.’ It doesn’t mean it should be evil and kill people and bomb people. It simply means to be right. If this world didn’t revolutionize, everything would stop. If your lungs didn’t revolutionize, you would stop. You didn’t get no heart from this system, you got the heart from the reference that they are trying to stop us from believing in”.
Long Live John Africa.
This is the only weapon we’ve ever had; this is the only weapon we’ve ever needed.
And this is the only force MOVE has ever directed at the system: The Truth.
Long Live John Africa!
The words of Michael Africa, MOVE member.