From left, Brother Gabe, Yahne Ndgo, Mike Africa Jr. and Dr. Krystal Strong at May 13 commemoration of the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia. Photos: Michael Z. Muham-mad

PHILADELPHIA—On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia’s skyline was marred by an unfathomable tragedy in an event that would etch a permanent scar on the city’s conscience—the MOVE bombing.

This day saw the Philadelphia Police Department execute an action so extreme, it culminated in the dropping of two explosive devices from a helicopter onto a row house in the heart of the Cobbs Creek neighborhood.

The residence, inhabited by members of the Black liberation group MOVE, became ground zero for a conflagration that rapidly consumed 61 homes across two city blocks, rendering 250 residents homeless in its wake.

The devastation claimed the lives of 11 people—six adults and five children—from the MOVE family, leaving behind a narrative of loss and survival marked by the miraculous escape of one adult and one child. 


A commemorative event was held on Monday, May 13, the 39th anniversary of the tragedy that continues to reverberate today.

In an emotionally charged interview with The Final Call, Mike Africa Jr., a MOVE spokesperson, unveiled his plan to honor the 13 victims of the bombing. Starting May 13 in Philadelphia, Mr. Africa Jr. started running the first of 13 half-marathons which will take place over a year—one for each victim—leading up to the 40th anniversary of the harrowing event in May 2025.

This poignant act of remembrance and resilience is part of a broader series of commemorative events, including the powerful archival exhibit “MOVE: The Old Days” at the Paul Robeson House and Museum and an Osage Avenue block clean-up, aimed at healing and remembering the neighborhood devastated by the bombing.

Mr. Africa Jr. grew up as part of the MOVE family and is the son of Mike Africa Sr. and Debbie Africa.

“Running together was a cherished activity for me and the other children. By running, I will pay tribute to our bond and resilience,” he explained.

Additionally, Mr. Africa Jr. aims to pay off the mortgage on the recovered MOVE home. After the government took their house through eminent domain following the tragic event, he and others fought to reclaim it. Now with the house back, he seeks to eliminate the $335,000 debt to restore the property’s original state before the bombing occurred.

“We will be running in several cities including Chicago, New York, Rochester, Oakland, Pennsylvania, Kansas City (Kansas), and Kansas City (Missouri). Our purpose is to honor the memory of our family members who tragically passed away.

When we attend protests and call out the names of victims we want to ensure they are not forgotten as mere statistics. We aim to humanize them by sharing their passions and interests—like Raymond Africa’s love for jazz music or Tree’s passion for climbing trees,” Mike Africa Jr. said.

“By organizing these runs in specific locations tied to their individual stories—such as Kansas City for jazz legend Charlie Parker or California for its towering trees—we hope to provide faces and stories behind the names that have echoed through the years. Let’s remember them not just as victims but as individuals with aspirations, dreams, and vibrant lives abruptly cut short,” he added.

The commemorative celebration on May 13 happened on Cobbs Creek Parkway, near the Osage Ave residence in front of the sign that marks the bombing. Yahne Ndgo, Krystal Stong, Brother Gabe, and Mike Africa Jr. led the event, reading out the names of the MOVE victims.

“We stand here to vow that we will always remember. The events of 39 years ago were unimaginable, unacceptable. We honor those who were not acknowledged as human beings, those who were forgotten.

In Philadelphia, they dropped a bomb and allowed the fire to rage. As people tried to flee, they were met with bullets. The city’s actions stripped away humanity in the face of our family members’ dignity and humanity. This is why we take to the streets,” stated Ms. Ndgo.

“As we stand here, let us speak their names and observe a moment of silence for each precious life: Tree Africa (14), Netta Africa (12), Deisha Africa (13), Phil Africa (12), Tomaso Africa (9). Let’s also remember the adults who deserved respect: Rhonda Africa, Theresa Africa, Frank Africa, Raymond Africa, Conrad Africa, John Africa,” Ms. Ndgo continued.

“We must not forget the survivors of this tragedy. Birdie Africa escaped with severe burns but lost his mother, Rhonda Africa. Remember our enduring freedom fighter Ramona Africa, who faced imprisonment for seven years post-bombing. Long live Ramona Africa,” she said.

Mike Africa Sr., one of the MOVE 9 was also present. He was incarcerated in 1978, serving 40 years for a police shootout in Philadelphia’s Powelton Village before being paroled.

 “In this country, we are confronted with the enduring battle against injustice. Our role in this fight extends beyond mere resistance; it is about setting a powerful example through promoting peace and unity in the face of adversity,” he told The Final Call.

“Sources of inspiration like The Final Call serve as beacons, guiding us through the darkness and reminding us of the strength found in our collective history and unity.

Standing together in these pivotal moments fills my soul with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and an unyielding energy derived from our community’s resilience. It is in these times, amidst the challenges we face, that our spirit is tested, and our true power is revealed,” he added.