Blog Post 6: Secondary Source

Source: “The Burning of Rebellious Thoughts; Move as Revolutionary Black Humanism

Citation: Floyd-Thomas, J.M. 2002. “The Burning of Rebellious Thoughts; MOVE as Revolutionary Black Humanism.” Black Scholar 32 (1): 11. doi:10.1080/00064246.2002.11431166.

Basic Info: This article is a secondary source which analyzes the history, ideology, and influence of the MOVE organization. Additionally, it covers their strained relationship with the Philadelphia Police Department and middle class whites, as well as the mixed reception they had with their neighbors in West Philadelphia. Finally, it details the tragic events of may 13th, 1985, when the PPD sieged and eventually bombed the MOVE house, which resulted in a large fire that burned down the entire block, leaving 11 dead and 250 homeless.

Close Reading: This article paints move in a very different light than most media. They reject their label as “terrorists” and instead use the term “revolutionaries”. I tend to agree with the latter. Although most of society saw them as pests, they had little reason to. They lived, worked, and prayed in a way that strayed from the norm, but none that was harmful to those around them. This would be normally be accepted, if not tolerated in America. But they were poor and black, living in poverty stricken West Philadelphia, so of course people took issue. They were strong willed, and defied those who told them to live by their standards. In retaliation for this, the PPD bombed them, killing 11 of 13 members.

Archival Context: This source is from a 2002 edition of Black Scholar, and contains a plethora of important information regarding the history of MOVE.

Broader Historical Context: The MOVE organization is one of the most famous examples of not only revolutionary black thought, but of violence against African Americans by the PPD. MOVE members were heavily inspired by Malcolm X, and MOVE continues to inspire black groups looking to advance themselves in society. Additionally, it shows the persistence of police violence in Philadelphia, and the failure of the department, or individual officers, to be held accountable.

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