For 40 years, members of the MOVE organization have been held in Pennsylvania prisons stemming from the August 8th, 1978 confrontation between MOVE and the city of Philadelphia. Nine MOVE men and women faced an unprecedented and facially illegal sentence 30 to 100 years for a third-degree murder conviction of a cop that more likely than not died from what was a classic case of so-called friendly fire.
That said, 2018 and 2019 marked a sea change in this MOVE case, for MOVE members began to come home. Two of them, Mike and Debbie Africa, were MOVE mates, as in man and wife. On April 7th, 2019, Mike and Debbie, formally married in the presence of their children and grandchildren. Also, there were friends and supporters from far and near.
Before they both were sent to faraway state prisons, I interviewed them for public radio. I remember quite distinctly talking to Mike, and I asked about Debbie. He looked at me ain that peculiar Amber-colored stare and said, “I’m going to write her every day.” It stunned me. I said “Every day?” Mike repeated: “Mu, every day.” This was his woman, he explained, so every day. Today, they live as husband and wife in a house that their son Mike, Jr. built 40 years.
Today, Mike’s once-black hair is silvery, framing his bearded dark face. Debbie astonishingly looks like a teenager. The bricks and bars of unjust incagement did not diminish their love. If anything, it has enriched it to show us a MOVE love story as real as steel.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.