Janine Phillips Africa and Janet Holloway Africa were released on parole from prison on Saturday, after serving 40 years. The ladies are the last of four women from the initial group of nine arrested to be paroled or die behind bars. The Guardian, who’s been documenting the story of the 1978 police siege that landed them behind bars, calls the development “a key moment in the history of the Move 9.”
In the 1970s, Move served as a prominent organization in the Black liberation struggle. Founded by John Africa, born Vincent Leaphart, the Philadelphia-based group advocated for equal treatment of African Americans and respect for nature and animals. All members considered themselves family and took the last name Africa. August 8, 1978, a police siege permanently broke the “family” up.
During an attempt to clear the home that housed Janine, Janet, and other members of the organization, Philadelphia police officer James Ramp was shot and killed by a single bullet. Members of Move maintain Ramp was killed by friendly fire as the group was unarmed, but Ramp’s death led to nine of them, five men and four women, being sentenced to 30 years to life.
Last June, members Debbie Sims Africa and husband Michael Davis Africa, Sr. were released. In March 1998, Merle Austin Africa died in prison. That leaves three remaining members still in prison.