I'm Free Now, You Are Free

A story about the reunion and repair between Mike Africa Jr and his mother Debbie Africa—a formerly incarcerated political prisoner of the MOVE9.

AIRED: November 29, 2021 | 0:14:55

- [Mike] What's happening bruh?

You ever heard of the MOVE organization?

The MOVE organization.

My family used to live here.

- [Man] Yeah.

- [Mike] You remember Rizzo?

- [Man] Yeah.

- [Mike] In the attack on MOVE in 1978?

- So this is where the house was,

this is where all the police were.

They were around, they were everywhere.

And they was on top of that building there.

And they were in the grass over here.

And this is where the side windows to the house were,

and they were shooting and aiming inside of the house

with the bullets.

Twelve adults and a bunch of kids were inside the house.

My mom was pregnant with me, she was inside the house too.


my dad was in there too but, when the

when the whole thing went down,

and all of the shooting, a cop got killed.

And of course, they blamed it on us.

So, nine people went to prison.

Nine members, MOVE members.

And they spent at least forty years each, in prison.

They just,

They just started getting out last year.

Yeah, so my mom and my dad,

they both did forty years in prison.

My mom just got out last June.

My dad just got out last October.

I was born in a jail cell.

My mom couldn't take me home.

I had to bring her home.

When ma first came home,

her and I used to talk for hours, everyday.

One time, she was in her room, and I knocked on her door,

and she, she said come in.

And I went in and I,

I look down on the floor and she was barefoot.

And I saw her feet, and I realized,

that's the first time I ever saw her feet before.

When I was looking at her feet, it was kind of like

the first time I remember seeing her.

It was like, it matched.

It matched with the image that if I had one,

that it would've been.

I talked to my friend Bobby and he said,

"Wow, you're learning at forty years old,

what babies learn about their mothers."

- [Debbie] Oh my god he was so cute,

he was a really golden olive brown skin light color.

He had lots of hair.

It was like slick on his head, cause once I wiped him off,

His hair would curl up a little bit.

I just wanted to keep holding him and keep,

I wanted to keep him.

Yeah, I did want to keep him.

Um, and then I had worries about,

you know, who's gonna feed him and you know,

all that stuff, now that,

then the stuff started going through my head

after I had him like,

are they gonna care for him like I would,

and you know even though I know

I had to give him to my mother,

you know, I think tears were just streaming down my face

and I just, you know almost,

at that point I almost just,

but I had to hold myself together,

I said he's gonna be alright, he's gonna be alright,

he's gonna be alright.

And I physically, very very begrudgingly,

I gave him to her,

you know just saying that, gave him to her, is just so hard.

Like those words.

And every time I relive this,

I just go through the same thing, it never settles with me.

It never feels like, I'm gonna get over this.

We weren't free to go and come as we wanted to.

This was a, this was an ongoing harassment

by the city of Philadelphia's police.

This was like a continuation of being stopped by cops,

on the street and taken into back alleys,

you know, beating people.

You know, women suffered I mean miscarriages

at the hands of cops.

Babies being dangled, you know, by the legs,

over a banister post because they want to evict somebody.

I thought it was necessary, I thought it was necessary to,

to fight for my home, to fight for my freedom actually.

I didn't think that they was gonna attack the house

the way they did.

That guilt is still there because

I'm supposed to be their protector,

I'm supposed to be their, you know, their mother.

I wasn't there when they were hurt, I wasn't there,

you know, when they needed me.

- [Alia] Dad let me get Navi first.

- Can you do me a favor lemur?

- [Alia] Yeah.

- Can you run upstairs and get my flashlight?

Upstairs, it's on my night table.

Maybe in my backpack.

Real quick.

What are you doing cat.

Here we go.


- [Alia] Yeah?

- Today.

- [Alia] What?

- Today, today, today.

Did you find it?

- [Alia] No.

- Did you really not?

(phone ringing)

You didn't find it?

(phone ringing)


You all tangled up.

Wait, wait, wait, wait.

Can I see these?


I'll tell you when I felt angry.

I felt angry when she tried to tell me something,

that I didn't need her to tell me.

This is how you do this, Michael.

I don't want you to do it like this.

No, those days are gone.

Long gone, I'm good.

Cause you haven't been here to teach me anything about this,

so now that I'm figuring,

I figured it out on my own,

I don't need you to try to change what I'm doing,

cause it works for me.

I did this on my own.


I used to call myself, the back burner kid.

Everything else was always more priority.

Everything else.

- You know I never, ever, ever wanted that for you,

or your sister.

Um, but the reality is, you know it was there.

But, you know, and I'm sorry for you know,

any grief, or pain, or whatever misery

you had to go through,

behind me not being there.

No, I wasn't around to see.

No, I wasn't around to see.

They did win.

He said, oh grandma was a goalie.

Grandma was a good goalie,

how come, what happened to her.


Remember that?

No, you wasn't there.

You wasn't there.

- No, no, I don't want to.

- Kick it to me, kick it to me.

- No.

- [Mike] I think the one thing I had to learn,

I didn't learn until I was a parent myself.

I thought that because you're my parent,

that it meant that you're incapable almost,

of making mistakes that would cause me pain.

- Yeah.

Learning that that is not true,

took a long time.

- One, two, three.

One, two, three.

All right, do it with me, come on.


Okay, what's another one.

See, you always do it real fast.


- [Mike] Today Alia, today.


- Today.

- [Mike] Today.

- Today.

All right what are we gonna start off first?

She's gonna show off, watch.

- [Alia] No I'm not.

- Yeah you are.


- See, I knew she was gonna show off.



Don't expect me to do that.


- [Mike] Stay still,

stay still.

Where are you.

I can't see what's going on.


Stay still will you?

- No.

- [Alia] Daddy.

- You're gonna fall.

- Oh,


Oh, he's too heavy.


- [Mike] Ready to go up?

- [Alia] Yeah.


- [Mike] You told me this thing when you got out.

The day that we picked you up.

And you said, you're free now.

And I want you to do everything you want to do.

You don't have to hold yourself back.

You said, I want you to fly baby.

You remember that?

- Mhm.

- And,

the thing that I took from that,

you just got out of prison,

you didn't say I'm free now, I can do whatever I want,

you said: I'm free now, you are free.

(upbeat music)

Hey, hey, how you doing?

Good, how you feel?

- Pretty good.

Waiting for you to perform today.

- Oh really?

Much pleasure.

Hey, how you doing?

- [inaudible] getting rid of the mess of the system right?

- No doubt, we on the move.

All right, and go to that white one.

Just tap it.


- [Woman] We are in a political moment,

where we have brought several

of our locked down revolutionaries home.

And we are going to fight until we bring Mumia home too.

In the words of Mumia-Abu Jamal,

every single incarcerated person, is a political prisoner.


Free Mumia-Abu Jamal, free all political prisoners,

bring them all home.

- [Audience] Bring them all, bring them all home.


- That was Lorraine's house.

Ms. Lorraine.

Ha, that's Angie's house.

Oh, that's the Campbell's house.


that was.

Eugene and Angie and them.


- Alright, I'm gonna read off here,

the names of the fallen warriors.

George Jackson, Geronimo Pratt, Afeni Shakur,

Tom Manning, John Africa, Raymond Africa,

Frank Africa, Rhonda Africa, Theresa Africa,

Conrad Africa, Delicia Africa, Netta Africa,

Katricia Africa, Tomaso Africa, Little Phil Africa,

Merle Africa, Phil Africa, Lynne Stewart,

Herman Wallace, Yogi Pinell, Safiya Bukhari,

Kuwasi Balagoon, Mondo we Langa,

Malcolm X, Yuri Kochiyama, Grace Lee,

Troy Davis, Leslie Fienberg, Bobby Sands,

Marilyn Buck, Albert Nuh Washington,

Dr. Alan Berkman, John Chaney,

Lolita Lebrón.

(car horn)


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