On a Move

Philadelphia's Notorious Bombing and a Native Son's Lifelong Battle for Justice

by Mike Africa Jr.

On Sale: 08/06/2024

On a Move

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On a Move

Philadelphia's Notorious Bombing and a Native Son's Lifelong Battle for Justice

by Mike Africa Jr.

On Sale: 08/06/2024


About the Book

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.

"As necessary and powerful as it is captivating." – Michael Harriot, New York Times bestselling author of Black AF History

"Searing and urgent." – Bakari Sellers, New York Times bestselling author of My Vanishing Country and The Moment

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.

Critical Praise

"The bombing of the MOVE headquarters is one of many events that still haunt Black America's memories but has largely been whitewashed from our public consciousness. On a Move unerases this story with powerful storytelling, detailed research and a personal perspective that combines personal and historical context. It is as necessary and powerful as it is captivating." — Michael Harriot, New York Times bestselling author of Black AF History

"On A Move is the stunning, insider’s account of the day Philadelphia officials firebombed a Black neighborhood, and it is the portrait of a family and a movement that went up in flames. As a child of the radical liberation organization MOVE, Mike Africa Jr. has the unique ability to blend memory, empathy, and reportage. This book is a reminder that history lives and breathes." — Antonia Hylton, New York Times bestselling author of Madness 

"On a Move is a powerful and important book that dares us to remember and to reckon with our nation's past. Sometimes we forget that children were present in that horrific bombing on Osage Avenue in Philadelphia all those years ago. Finally, we have the story of MOVE and of the terrible moment, from someone who grew up in it all. At times bewildering and surprising, I could not put this book down!" — Eddie Glaude, New York Times bestselling author of Begin Again

"The bombing was an unthinkable act, thought out and executed with reckless abandon. Now, in this searing and urgent new book, Mike Africa Jr. fearlessly tells the true story of what happened that fateful day, why the MOVE organization was formed, and how overpolicing and underfunding communities can end in inevitable tragedy." — Bakari Sellers, New York Times bestselling author of My Vanishing Country and The Moment

"It has been quite some time since a book held me captive. On a Move is such a book. It’s a riveting and inspirational read, and also a healing journey that is not for the faint of heart. Mike Africa Jr.’s voice is on full blast from start to finish, setting the record straight with candor and eloquence. May the captivating power of his truth, so deftly woven within these pages, shatter the chains that have bound his loved ones within the System for too long." — Dame Lisa Simone, award-winning executive producer, actress and entertainer

"I remember the MOVE bombing like it happened last night. I heard the loud boom and saw black smoke all over the streets. Pure chaos. I was ashamed to call myself a Philadelphian. I'm thrilled that the story of MOVE is finally being told. Mike Africa Jr. has put on the page what only a few people have known – and what I hope nobody ever forgets.” — Charlie Mack, film producer and Philadelphia legend

"Everyone should know what happened to MOVE." — Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, about the MOVE bombing

"Your story can change people's lives." — Common, on Mike Africa Jr.

"Free at last!" — Tina Knowles, when Mike's parents were released from prison

"On a Move represents in equal parts a total failure of the system and a triumph of the human spirit." — Tommy Oliver, filmmaker

"From the moment Mike Africa Jr. took his first newborn breath in a jail cell, his inspirational journey as legacy member of the MOVE family has been a reckoning of what it means to be an American; a boy from Philly; a modern-day David; a rose in the concrete; and a man determined to liberate himself, everyone he loves, and be truly free. With candor and self-awareness, Mike shares his compelling story of struggle and perseverance, and demonstrates love as an impelling force of unwavering dedication to family, truth, and justice." — Jana Babatunde-Bey, media executive, film/television producer, and philanthropist

"Passionate and unflinching.... With its insightful and nuanced musings on legacy and activism, this impactful memoir isn’t easily forgotten." — Publishers Weekly

"An insider’s account of the Black communal movement that drew the ire—and the firebombs—of the Philadelphia police.... A memorable portrait of a little-understood movement and its founders." — Kirkus Reviews


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063318878
  • ISBN 10: 0063318873
  • Imprint: Mariner Books
  • On Sale: 08/06/2024
  • Pages: 304
  • List Price:40.50 CAD
  • BISAC2 : SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society
  • BISAC3 : SELF-HELP / Personal Growth / Happiness
  • BISAC4 : HISTORY / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
  • BISAC5 : HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
  • BISAC6 : HISTORY / United States / 21st Century
  • BISAC7 : SOCIAL SCIENCE / Race & Ethnic Relations
  • BISAC8 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / African American & Black

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