yasmin hernandez welcome






 

 

 


Delbert Africa

2003
Mixed media on canvas
36" x 18"

More than a decade before shocking video footage shared the Rodney King beating with the world, the abuse suffered by Delbert Africa, at the hands of Philadelphia Police, was caught on tape. People have been suffering at the hands of "law enforcers" for far too long and still we continue to lose young brothers to police brutality. As with The Ponce Massacre painting, this shocking image is inspired by a photograph. At times we artists can manipulate a scene to make it seem more harsh or dramatic. Photography in that sense can be one of the least forgiving methods of capturing an image, as it depicts reality in its raw form. This painting is inspired by the infamous photo taken of the beating of Delbert Africa during the police attack on the MOVE Headquaters in West Philadelphia, August 8, 1978. The Christ-like image depicts Delbert surrendering to the police, with his arms up in the air, yet they continue to strike him.

MOVE, an organization founded by John Africa, is a way of life--life is also the name of a faith they practice that promotes respect and appreciation for nature, earth and all things living. Members, in addition to taking on the sur-name Africa--as a way to reject last names that were handed out by slave masters--allow their hair to grow naturally, promote healthy living and are fervent activists against all types of injustices. With their headquarters in West Philly they served their local community, helping seniors, the homeless and neighborhood pets. They also made fresh fruits and vegetables available to neighbors to promote eating healthily. Known for their fiery oratory--speaking out against injustice-- they quickly became a target for the police.

Abuses from the police resulted in the miscarriages of several pregnant MOVE woman and also in the death of 3-week old Life Africa whose mom was thrown to the ground while the baby was still in her arms. As if these incidents and accompanying images are not shocking enough, in May of 1985, Philadelphia police used a helicopter (pictured in the upper portion of the painting) to drop a bomb onto the roof of the MOVE house on Osage Avenue. The resulting fire leveled an entire city block of 60 homes. Over the years, many MOVE members have been killed during such attacks, many of them children. For those who were able to survive, they still have to suffer through the imprisonment of their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers---locked up for their political beliefs.

MOVE continues to live and struggle according to their beliefs and the teachings of John Africa.

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