On a Move!
By Ramona Africa

In May 1985, Philadelphia police bombed and destroyed the house and the entire block where members of a radical, revolutionary group called MOVE lived. Eleven people in the house were killed, including the founder of MOVE, John Africa. The only surviving adult was Ramona Africa, who was sentenced to, and served, seven years for conspiracy, riot and multiple counts of simple and aggravated assault. Although a special commission was established that heavily criticized the Philadelphia police for their actions, no one was indicted. The following article is based on a talk delivered at San Francisco State University in October 1994.

The Move organization started out 20 years ago in the early seventies, founded by a wise, perceptive, sensitive, black man called John Africa. John Africa taught us to respect and revere life. Based on that belief, we had peaceful demonstrations at the zoo in Philadelphia and in the Bronx. We demonstrated against unsafe boarding homes for the elderly; and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for their mistreatment of animals. We went to symposiums and conferences on gang warfare. When we would go to the zoos or to any type of demonstration around animal rights, we hit them hard. We asked people what made them think that the mink coat looked better on them than on the mink. I mean, these people are arrogant.

Do Something About the Rampage

It doesn't matter how small it may seem, or how magnanimous it may seem, but do something. To commit yourselves to doing something to change the system that we live in, to make this a better place for yourselves, your family, your children, your sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, whatever. Do something for yourself.

I'm saying that we have to do something about the rampage of injustice and brutality that is rained down on us. Not on some people out there on Mars but on us right here. We can stop it, and it doesn't take violence. It doesn't take guns or bloodshed or any of that. All it takes is one thing -- unity.

The MOVE organization is a deeply religious organization, but we are a revolutionary organization. And really what makes us revolutionary is the injustice in the system. Revolutionary simply means change and if things were not wrong, there would be no need for change. We are not masochists. We are not pacifists. We believe in self-defense, and we are armed and equipped with the wisdom, and the understanding given to us by John Africa to know the difference between self-defense and violence and to understand and explain that they are not synonymous.

MOVE people would not just sit back and accept injustice. When we saw it we would confront it and expose it. John Africa explained to us that you are as strong as you believe. So if your belief is righteous, if your belief is strong, you cannot help but be strong and righteous as your belief, because you reflect your belief. MOVE will work with any organization that is talking about defeating this system, that is talking about putting things right. We work with Native Americans, animal rights people, environmentalists, socialists, communists, whatever they want to call themselves. We don't care. I don't care if you're Muslim, Christian, Democrat, Republican, if you are poor, if you are one of the oppressed: you get beat with the same black jack, get thrown in the same cells, get the same lethal injection, gas chamber, electric chair, or whatever. What I'm saying is when people come together, we get things done. Unity is what this system fears.

As hard as it may be to believe, this simple principle that cannot be disputed is what has put us in conflict with this system. Because this system doesn't give a damn about life -- whether it's man, woman, child, black, white, or whatever. This system doesn't care. Those who run the system don't care. All they care about is money, that almighty dollar, that piece of paper with a dead man's picture on it. That's their god.

One Source, One Truth

Members of MOVE don't see ourselves as superior to any form of life because we understand that all life comes from one source, is coordinated by one source...whether you call it "Allah," "Jehovah," "Jesus," or whatever. We call that force nature, mother nature, mom. But whatever you call that force, there is only one. And if we understand that, then how can anything that comes from one source be superior or inferior.

This is what our founder John Africa had taught us. And because of that we protect the air, we protect the water, we protect the soil, we protect animals. We don't allow anybody to abuse animals around us. We don't allow anybody to abuse babies around us, or the elderly. We confront industry that poisons, pollutes our air, our water, puts toxic waste in our soil. These are things that nobody is exempt from, no matter how much money or status you have.

When we confront industrialists, they're going to get an attitude with us because we say we want clean air to breathe and don't want to breathe polluted air. How dare we! The information was so simple and so clear that there was no defense against it because there is no defense against the truth. Any number of lies can't stand up to one truth.

For more information on Ramona Africa and MOVE contact the web at: www.parascope.com/mx/move2.htm or P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143. For more details on radical groups such as MOVE contact, Refuse and Resist, 305 Madison Avenue, Suite 1166, New York, NY 10165. Tel.: 212-387-8884. One of the supporters of MOVE throughout its existence is journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, currently on death row. To reach Campaign To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal, write to 163 Amsterdam Avenue, #115, New York, NY 10023-5001. Tel.: 212-580-1022.