June 16, 2018: Debbie Sims Africa is released after serving nearly 40 years of unjust political imprisonment in the state of Pennsylvania. Convicted of 3rd-degree murder, Debbie, along with Chuck Africa, Eddie Africa, Janet Africa, Janine Africa, Michael Africa Sr, Phil Africa and Merle Africa, were each sentenced to 30-100 years in prison following the August 8, 1978 police attack on their Philadelphia Osage Avenue home.
Known as the MOVE 9, Debbie was the first to be released on parole. MOVE, an organization founded by John Africa for the purposes of “stopping the suffering of life,” focuses on the principles of social justice, animal rights, and environmental consciousness.
At the time of her imprisonment in August 1978, Debbie was the 22-year-old mother of a 2-year-old daughter and was eight months pregnant with her son. Unbeknownst to prison guards, she gave birth to Michael Africa, Jr. a month later in her prison cell. Mother and son were separated three days later and would not be reunited outside the prison walls until 40 years later.
In the years since Debbie’s release, each of the MOVE members were finally released on parole, sadly, not before Merle Africa and Phil Africa succumbed to state-sanctioned prison medical neglect in 1998 and 2015 respectively.