MOVE’s revolutionary stance has been overlooked — and is needed more than ever

todayMay 12, 2023 374 2

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By Dylan Lewis | WURD Radio

The story of MOVE often starts with the end.

It begins with a standoff between the organization and the police and concludes with the catastrophic bombing of Osage Ave on May 13, 1985. We often miss some of the most crucial details that started way before we like to acknowledge. The dreams of MOVE were revolutionary to the core, especially when it came to their fierce environmentalism.

John Africa wrote “the guidelines” as a pathway for how members of MOVE should and would live their lives. Integral to his writing was an honor for the earth and a loving attention for all the ways that we, as humans, are part of a larger ecology. The first principle listed within the guidelines reads: ‘Each individual life is dependent on every other life, and all life has a purpose, so all living beings, things that move, are equally important, whether they are human beings, dogs, birds, fish, trees, ants, weeds, rivers, wind or rain. To stay healthy and strong, life must have clean air, clear water and pure food. If deprived of these things, life will cycle to the next level, or as the system says, “die.”’ Africa believed that if we tried to dominate the natural world, we would only inflict harm on ourselves.

The ramifications of the past are beginning to seep into our lives in the present day. In 2023, the climate crisis is worsening, people are dying and our earth is deteriorating at an alarming rate. We can see it in Philadelphia when a hurricane can flood I-76, and our children can barely breathe in some neighborhoods. We’re living amidst the prophecy that MOVE foretold to us.

We don’t just live on Earth; we’re a part of it and need to start acting like it. The teachings of MOVE offer us a different path forward. Whether divesting from big businesses and their capitalistic enterprises, adopting a vegan or partial vegan/vegetarian diet or finding ways to care for the earth that we are so lucky to inhabit, we can use their green lifestyle as a lens through which we examine our own.

Whatever we decide to do, something has to change. We must learn from MOVE’s radical dreams and carry on their legacy of environmental activism. They dared to stand for what they believed in, and we must take the first steps to believe that if we change our individual actions – even if small – we can still have a profound impact.


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Written by: Dylan Lewis

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