Sunday, March 13, 2011
Merle Austin Africa was the embodiment of strength, endurance and a welcoming spirit. A radiant smile was a partner of her commitment. A Black Woman, a MOVE member. A rebel, revolutionary. Bright, beautiful, genuine. The perfect sister.
It was thirteen years ago today—March 13th, that Merle passed away at the prison for women in Northwestern Pennsylvania in Cambridge Springs. She had been in prison for twenty straight years, doing a sentence of 30-100 years for essentially not renouncing the teachings of John African and turning on MOVE.
Merle maintained her innocence along with her family/co-defendants who 33 years in prison. Merle was a human being who was the soul of the family; her laughter was infectious. She must never be forgotten and in that spirit. I wish to reach out to all who embrace our sisters for their enduring spirit and centuries long dedication to the resistance of racism, misogamy and all forms of White Supremacy.
Too many of our unsung heroes go unnoticed or under-appreciated. We do not want Merle in that category. Merle was robbed of twenty years of her life. John Africa said if you rob someone of their life—impose on their contentment, you have in fact killed that person. She was murdered by the state.
Our concerted efforts to educate must be relentless as we strive to get justice and redress for all of these loses. And we must continue to link Merle’s persecution as a political prisoner and Black Women to all of our Political Prisoners and Women being oppressed. Over all objectives is our quest for eventual freedom for all and our God given right o determine for ourselves.
Merle died on March 13th, thirteen years ago. Those thirteen years and the date of her death are significant and eerie by itself. Those numbers bear a real, historical relation to MOVE and a chronology that started when MOVE members were arrested March 13th, 1981; our home bombed and eleven members murdered May 13th, 1985 and of course, her death, March 13th 1998.
If this bleak account is disturbing—as it should be—let us unify our effort wherever we can in honoring Merle and keeping her spirit alive as we re-double our efforts to fight for the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war and human beings.
Free All Political Prisoners
Chuck Africa, MOVE 9
Iresha Picot, MOVE Supporter