In this gripping book, Richard Kent Evans offers a deeply researched blow-by-blow account of MOVE, a small majority-Black interracial religious group formed in 1972 in Philadelphia to follow John Africa (b. Vincent Leaphart). Often described as a “back to nature” religion, MOVE members critiqued the idea of progress, foreswore electricity and most furniture, and ate a diet of mostly raw food. Their sacred text was dictated by Africa and was intriguing enough to momentarily interest a long line of left-leaning figures. Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and poet Sonia Sanchez went further, counting themselves as full-fledged supporters.

MOVE’s frequent conflicts with neighbors, police, and representatives of what they called “The System” began with disrupting school board meetings, continued with yelling profanities at court hearings and receiving prison sentences, and escalated into stockpiling and brandishing weapons. Violent and apocalyptic predictions preceded a firefight in 1978 in which members of MOVE killed a policeman,...

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