The MOVE Organization is a family of strong, serious, deeply committed revolutionaries founded by a wise, perceptive, strategically-minded Black man named JOHN AFRICA. The principle of our belief is explained in a collection of writings we call “The Guidelines,” authored by JOHN AFRICA.
MOVE, a controversial Philadelphia-based organization often associated with the Black Power movement, combined philosophies of black nationalism and anarcho-primitivism to advocate a return to a hunter-gatherer society and avoidance of modern medicine and technology. The group’s very loud and public quest for racial justice, as well as its strong views on animal rights, led to a number of confrontations between MOVE members and their West Philadelphia neighbors as well as with Philadelphia police. The most famous of these confrontations, in 1985, earned Philadelphia a reputation as “the city that bombed itself.”
In 1973, MOVE formed around the principles of John Africa (formerly Vincent Leaphart), which called for a vigorous rejection of the norms and conventions of modern technological society. The disruptive lifestyle of MOVE members led to conflict with neighbors and the police. This resource collects stories from different time periods in MOVE's history.
The records of the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission provides a comprehensive account of the MOVE crisis and its antecedents. In addition to files organized by relevant city department or other source, the PSIC created computerized lists illustrating the roles and interactions of every policeman, fireman, city official and community resident, computerized grids showing who attended each of the many meetings held before May 13, and indexes to testimony. The records include records generated or gathered by the PSIC, including administrative materials, investigative reports and interviews; testimony at the hearings plus the videotapes of the televised coverage by Channel 12; clippings related to MOVE; evidence submitted by various sources to the Commission; and the live television coverage of May 13, including the full coverage from Channel 10. In addition, most of the key documents are also preserved on 17 reels of microfilm.
Twenty years ago, Philadelphia's Osage Avenue was the site of a stunning use of force by city police. After a long standoff, police dropped a bomb on the headquarters of a radical group called MOVE, sparking a fire that gutted a neighborhood and left 11 people dead. Five were children.
In a case that has haunted Philadelphia for 11 years, a Federal jury yesterday found the city liable for the fire that, in ending an all-day standoff between the police and the radical group Move, killed 11 people, including 5 children, and left a city block in ashes.
Talk to some of the folks who lived through the bombing of 62nd and Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia 30 years ago, and you'll notice that they refer to the MOVE bombing simply by its full date. May 13, 1985.
Despite two grand jury investigations and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was criminally charged. MOVE was a Philadelphia-based radical movement that was dedicated to black liberation and a back-to-nature lifestyle. It was founded by John Africa, and all its members took on the surname Africa. We hear from Mumia Abu-Jamal and speak with Ramona Africa, the only adult survivor of the bombing.
On May 13, 1985, after a long standoff, Philadelphia municipal authorities dropped a bomb on a residential row house. The Osage Avenue home was the headquarters of the African-American radical group MOVE, which had confronted police on many occasions since the group's founding in 1972.
After my stories last week on the 30th anniversary of the MOVE siege in West Philadelphia in 1985, in which Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood, leaving 11 dead — including five children — we were surprised by how many people told us they'd never heard of the bombing.
After nearly four decades, Philadelphia has acknowledged that it was no accident when six adults and five children died in the MOVE bombing. The decision to amend the death certificates followed an independent investigation released in June 2022.