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Activist archive gives as-told-by look into the MOVE family history.

The MOVE Family has a storied history within the city of Philadelphia. As most are indeed familiar with the neighborhood tension that led to the 1985 state-sanctioned bombing of the organization, historically less visible has always been the teachings of the radical operation.

Dr. Krystal Strong guiding a Saturday tour of the new exhibit.

A new exhibit at the Paul Robeson Museum cracks the lid on that. Curated by long-time supporter and organizer Dr. Krystal Strong as well as descendant of the creed, Mike Africa Jr. the collection of photos, documents, and memorabilia depicts the organization's membership as disciplined and insightful. Led by the teachings of John Africa, the organization grew from "The Old Days" as a small Powellton Village household to the Osage Avenue organization that brought the city to drop a bomb on itself. The teachings of Africa, are sprawled through the exhibit from beginning to end.

""MOVE is not an acronym, it simply means activity, and accurately describes the organization, from running dogs, to running ourselves, to washing cars, to demonstrating, to all of the activities engaged in by MOVE members. Thus the beginning of the MOVE Organization" - John Africa

A vast collection of records were kept by the family, as a means of securing its own history. Much of it coming in the form of the original scription of Louise Africa, John's sister. "There's a cultural difference," says Mike Africa Jr., son of Mike and Debbie Africa, two members of the MOVE 9.

"The only way that it can come out accurate is if we tell it, because this culture is one that only we understand. Even other Black people don't understand our culture the way we do... so it's important for us to tell our story."

Also a prominent feature in the MOVE story, is Philadelphia journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Since 1982 Abu-Jamal has been serving a life sentence (vacated from Death Sentence in 2001) for the murder of a Philadelphia Police Officer. Despite numerous appeals, his conviction is still being upheld. In the 80's Abu-Jamal prominently covered the MOVE family, eventually joining the organization as a supporter and media companion.

The exhibit premiered to the public this past weekend, as part of the annual May 13th commemoration of the bombing. It served as the penultimate celebration preceded by a block cleanup of Osage Avenue as well as the official remembrance day ceremony. In accordance with the new archive, the MOVE family is seeking to re-acquire the property at 6221 Osage Avenue. Proceeds from the exhibit, and future campaigns will go towards that goal. For more information on the exhibit in the future, visit

(Pictured) Mike Africa Jr. detailing his family's history.


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