When A ’70s Black Commune Refused To Surrender, Police Laid Siege – And Later Leveled A City Block

Image: On A Move

It was a high summer’s day in August 1978 in West Philadelphia’s Powelton Village district. Suddenly, the neighborhood’s tranquility was shattered by a concerted outbreak of gunfire. Police and members of a radical African-American group called Move were shooting it out. And seven years later, the conflict between Move and the authorities was to reach a horrifyingly violent crescendo at another West Philly address.

Move was an extraordinary anti-establishment organization that traced its origins to a predecessor group, the Christian Movement for Life. The founding father was John Africa – all members of the group took the surname of “Africa” in recognition of what they saw as their common place of origin, the continent of Africa.

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