Black History Month 2024

1984 1985 1986

39 Jimmy Carter | 40 Ronald Reagan | 41 George H. W. Bush

Affirmative Action Mass Incarceration Reparations Movement

May 13, 1985
MOVE Bombed By Police



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Philadelphia Police Department used a bomb, in an airstrike, that killed 11 people. It was dropped on the roof of a home. The neighborhood was densely packed. The Philadelphia Fire Department let the fire burn out of control.

MOVE was the Christian Movement For Life. It was a back-to-nature group of Black Americans, led by John Africa. From 1981, MOVE members lived in a row home, at 6221 Osage Avenue, in Philadelphia.

For years, neighbors complained about MOVE members. The complaints were about trash around the house and confrontations with neighbors. MOVE used a bullhorn to make announcements, of political messages, in the neighborhood.

Mayor Wilson Goode and police commissioner Gregore J. Sambor evacuated the neighborhood before their planned attack on the MOVE house. They promised that everyone could return after twenty-four (24) hours.

Monday, May 13, 1985, five hundred (500) police workers arrived at the MOVE house. The police were there to arrest MOVE members and clear the house.

There were thirteen (13) people inside the MOVE house. They were eight (8) adults and five (5) children. The police ordered everyone to leave. MOVE members did not respond.

The police fired tear gas bombs into the house. The MOVE members fired at the bomb throwers. Police fired ten thousand (10,000) rounds at the house.

The police barrage stopped. The MOVE members stayed inside. Next, Commissioner Sambor ordered the house be bombed, from the air.

At 5:27 p.m., Frank Powell was head of the Philadelphia police bomb disposal squad. Powell lit a 45 second fuse to C-4 (an explosive used in the Vietnam War). From a helicopter, Powell dropped the bomb, on the still occupied MOVE house.

The bomb exploded on the roof and started a fire. Mayor Goode ordered that the fire should not be put out until the bunker burned. That was one and a half (1 1/2) hours after the fire started.

As a result, eleven (11) people died. Six (6) adults and five (5) children were killed. The children ranged from seven (7) to fourteen (14) years of age. Ramona Africa was one of the survivors. She said the police shot at them as they tried to escape the fire.

Ramona Africa was charged and convicted of riot and conspiracy, as a survivor of MOVE. No city employees, politicians, or officials were criminally charged for the attack.

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November 17, 1985
First Use of 'Crack' in Media



New York, New York - 'Crack' first appeared in newspaper print, in the New York Times. This was the beginning of the 'crack cocaine' hysteria, that lasted for decades.

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December 16, 1985
The Color Purple Premiered



New York, New York - The Color Purple was shown for the first time in New York, New York. It was a work of fiction, based on a story by Alice Walker. Steven Spielberg directed the movie.

The movie starred Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg. From its release, the movie has been controversial and heavily criticized by Black Americans.

Some of the complaints, of the movie, were its racist stereotypes of Black American men as violent toward women. The Black American rapist stereotype was created by white males during Reconstruction to lynch (murder) and castrate Black American men.

Another complaint was that this fictional movie, which made Black American men as violent, was directed by a white male, Spielberg. Further, Spielberg already faced charges of racism from Asians. This was from his 1984 Indiana Jones movie.

There was the issue of sexual perversion in the movie. It showed Black American women as sexually deviant. Despite the story being about Black Americans, all the producers were white or homosexual.

The movie went into wide release, February 7, 1986. This was during Black History Month and after the first observance of Martin Luther King Day, as a Federal holiday.

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