John Africa
John Africa was a founder of MOVE
MOVE or the MOVE Organization is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group founded by John Africa. MOVE was described by CNN as "a loose-knit, mostly black group whose members all adopted the surname Africa, advocated a "back-to-nature" lifestyle and preached against technology." The group...

, a Philadelphia-based black liberation group prominent in the United States in the early 1970s. He died while involved in an armed standoff with the Philadelphia Police Department.

Early life, work, and death

Africa was born Vincent Leaphart on July 26, 1931 in the Mantua
Mantua, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mantua is a neighborhood in the West Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is located north of Spring Garden Street, east of 40th Street, south of Mantua Avenue, and west of 31st Street...

 neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Leaphart's mother died when he was young and he blamed the hospital where she was being treated for her death. Leaphart served in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, from which he derived an early hatred of the American class system and what he perceived as its ties to race. He adopted the name "John Africa" because of his ethnic origin as an African-American, and because he believed Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 to be the place where life originated
Abiogenesis or biopoesis is the study of how biological life arises from inorganic matter through natural processes, and the method by which life on Earth arose...


Africa later met Donald Glassey, a social worker from the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

, with whom he began to collaborate. Africa was functionally illiterate, so Glassey wrote down Africa's ideas. Glassey's notes would eventually become a document called The Guideline.

Glassey later implicated Africa and other MOVE member in various crimes, to include parole violation, contempt of court, illegal possession of firearms, and making terroristic threats. Law enforcement obtained indictments on the implicated members of MOVE and attempted to arrest them, which led to an armed stand off by MOVE and subsequent raid by the Philadelphia Police Department. During the raid, Africa died along with five other adults and five children when the Philadelphia Police Department
Philadelphia Police Department
The Philadelphia Police Department is the police agency responsible for law enforcement and investigations within the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

 dropped an explosive device on the MOVE headquarters. The actual cause of death of the MOVE members involved is disputed as there were numerous flammable and explosive compounds in the building at the time of the raid.

Influence on others

Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. He has been described as "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate", and his sentence is one of the most debated today...

 follows the teachings of John Africa, and was a supporter of the MOVE organization. During Abu-Jamal's 1982 murder trial
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Mumia Abu-Jamal
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Mumia Abu-Jamal was a 1982 murder trial in which Mumia Abu-Jamal was tried and convicted for the first-degree murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner....

, Abu-Jamal made repeated requests to be represented by Africa, which were denied by the presiding judge since Africa was not an attorney.
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