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On a Move

On a Move

Philadelphia's Notorious Bombing and a Native Son's Lifelong Battle for Justice (Pre-Order, Aug 6 2024)

Mike Africa Jr.
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The incredible story of MOVE, the revolutionary Black civil liberties group that Philadelphia police bombed in 1985, killing 11 civilians--by one of the few people born into the organization, raised during the bombing's tumultuous aftermath, and entrusted with repairing what was left of his family.

Before police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood on May 13, 1985, few people outside Philadelphia were aware that a Black-led civil liberties organization had taken root there. Founded in 1972 by a charismatic ideologue called John Africa, MOVE's mission was to protect all forms of life from systemic oppression. They drew their ideology from the Black Panther Party and pre-dated animal and environmental rights groups like PETA and Earth First. MOVE emerged in an era when Black Philadelphians suffered under devastating policies brought by the long, doomed war in Vietnam, Mayor Frank Rizzo's overtly racist police surveillance, and, eventually, President Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs. MOVE members lived together in a collection of West Philadelphia row houses and took the surname Africa out of admiration for the group's founder.

But in MOVE's lifestyle, city officials saw threats to their status quo. Their bombing of MOVE homes shocked the nation and made international news. Eleven people were killed, including five children. And the City of Brotherly Love became known as the City That Bombed Itself.

Among the children most affected by the bombing was Mike Africa Jr. Born in jail following a police attack on MOVE that led to his parents' decades-long incarcerations, Mike was six years old and living with his grandmother when MOVE was bombed. In the ensuing years, Mike sought purpose in the ashes left behind. He began learning about the law as a teenager and became adept at speaking and inspiring public support with the help of other MOVE members. In 2018, at age 40, he finally succeeded in getting his parents released from prison.

On a Move is one of the most unimaginable stories of injustice and resilience in recent American history. But it is not only one of tragedy. It is about coming-of-age for a young activist, the strong ties of family, and, against all odds, learning how to take indignities on the chin and to work within the very system that created them. At once a harrowing personal account and an impassioned examination of racism and police violence, On a Move testifies to the power of love and hope, in the face of astonishing wrongdoing.


"Everyone should know what happened to MOVE." -- Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson

"Your story can change people's lives." -- Common

"Free at last!" -- Tina Knowles


Mike Africa Jr. is a sought-after speaker and writer who has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and on NPR. He starred in the HBO documentary 40 Years a Prisoner and was featured in the Audible original docu-series about the MOVE bombing, Summer of '85, produced by Kevin Hart and Charlamagne tha God, and narrated by Hart. As a keynote speaker, Mike has been invited to speak everywhere from the Smithsonian and the University of Pennsylvania to the 55 Year Anniversary of the Black Panther Party.D. Watkins is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Beast Side, The Cook Up, Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised, and Black Boy Smile. He is also Editor-at-Large for Salon and a college lecturer at the University of Baltimore.


  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • Publish Date: August 06, 2024
  • Pages: 304
  • Dimensions: 0.0 X 0.0 X 0.0 inches | 1.0 pounds
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9780063318878
  • BISAC Categories: Personal Memoirs, United States - 20th Century, United States - 21st Century, Personal Growth - Happiness, Violence in Society, Race & Ethnic Relations

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