Students Campaign For Historical Marker Commemorating MOVE Bombing

June 9, 2017
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/06/09/students-campaign-for-historical-marker-commemorating-move-bombing/ (click link to see video)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The site of the 1985 “MOVE” bombing in Cobbs Creek will soon get a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker.

Jubilee School Students Sucessfully Campaign For Historical Marker Commemorating MOVE Bombing

    Photo still from the video. Click to go online to watch video on CBS.

It was May 13, 1985, when police bombed the Osage Avenue row home of a group of radical black activists known as MOVE.

The resulting fire destroyed 61 homes and killed 11 people, including five children.

“Children younger and older than us were killed by a bomb that was dropped by police and stuff, and they didn’t even know why,” said Jubilee School 6th grader Ella Adams.

Meet Ella, Hannah, Ishtar, Nigel and David.

“I don’t understand how Philadelphia could do that,” said David Bannister, a 7th grader.

These current and former students at the Jubilee School make up “Songs of the Children,” an anti-violence group.

After learning about MOVE last May, teacher Karen Falcon took the group to Osage Avenue.

“The houses look really worn down, it wasn’t rebuilt well,” said Ishtar El, a 6th grader.

What stood out was what was missing: a memorial telling what happened.

“We were like, ‘how about we make a historical marker?’” said Hannah Romer, a 6th grader.

They got 200 signatures and filled out an application for a historical marker; the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission gave approval in March.

The MOVE Bombing marker will be placed at the corner of Osage and Cobbs Creek Parkway. It will summarize the tragedy, including participation by the city, state police, and FBI.

“It’s really empowering, and it makes me feel happy that we could do something like this,” said Ishtar.

They launched a GoFundMe for the plaque for the June 24th dedication and for a documentary for their campaign.  They also sold baked goods. 

“I really want to show that this is out there, and this happened, and we cannot avoid it,” said Hannah.

And that kids, no matter their age, “we can do something about it, and we can make a difference,” said 7th grader Nigel Carter

By taking action, that makes change.

Cherri Gregg

Students Make Historical Marker for 1985 MOVE Family Bombing

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has approved a historical marker for the West Philadelphia site of the 1985 MOVE bombing, near Osage Avenue and Cobbs Creek Parkway.

The marker was nominated by students of the private, Southwest Philadelphia-based Jubilee School who for two years have studied the 1985 incident in which Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood, leaving 11 dead — including five children – and 61 rowhomes destroyed.

“The students were determined to get the whole story and not just one perspective,” said Karen Falcon, history teacher and director of the Jubilee School. “They understood that the neighbors had a different perspective than the MOVE members, and that everybody’s perspective – other than the city government – had some relevance. The students had a very complex view of what happened.”

MOVE family home after FBI/police bombing on May 13, 1985

                          MOVE family home after FBI/police aerial bombing on May 13, 1985

According to Karen Galle, Historical Marker Program Coordinator, only 18 markers were approved for 2017, and the decision regarding the MOVE bombing location was tough.

“Generally speaking markers are marking people, places, events and innovations that do have a positive light,” she said. “But the panel thought it was important to mark this because it did have substantial impact and maybe would go to preventing something similar from happening again.”

Founded in 1977, the Jubilee is a private Pre-K to 5th grade school at 4211 Chester Ave., with less than 100 students who not only study the world, but the history and culture of its neighborhood. The 4th- and 5th-grade students’ historical research into MOVE was sparked in 2015 by Freddie Grey’s death and led to their investigation into police brutality and the subsequent 1985 MOVE encounter.

After visiting the Osage Avenue site and interviewing residents, journalists, neighbors and police, the students decided to submit a nomination for a historical marker.

In applying for the PHMC marker the students wrote: “The MOVE bombing wasn’t only an issues of the City of Philadelphia or the State of Pennsylvania. It made an impact nationwide and was reported in the international press. It’s part of American history. Since there were no consequences to the police and city officials for their actions, it paved the way for government assistance to, and tolerance of, police brutality. The reason Pennsylvania needs to have this historical marker is that the MOVE bombing was one of the most extreme cases of police violence and government abuses of power. The marker can help spread awareness of a troubled history which has been buried for so many years. Not enough people are aware of what happened on May 13th, 1985. The marker will inform people about that tragic event. It can open eyes to mistakes that were made that still haven’t been resolved. When history is known, people can learn from problems of the past so they can make improvements for the future.”

The marker will be dedicated June 24, 2017.