Friday, May 13, 2011

Who is Delbert Orr Africa (in a snapshot)

by Yvonne Orr on Friday, May 13, 2011

Delbert Orr Africa is a political prisoner who
has been wrongfully incarcerated for over 30
years. Delbert Orr was born June 21, 1951 (this
is the media published date, NOT the real one
which will remain undisclosed...for the record,
my dad is actually the math =). As a
young man he joined the Chicago Chapter of the
Black Panther Party, where he met my mom. A
loving relationship ensued with her being a
feisty officer of the BPP and him being a nubuck
in the game of stand-up-for-yourself
revolution. In 1969 the FBI put forth false
warrants on the Chicago BPP leadership, including
my parents. They and others then fled to Canada
and birthed One Phoenix Rising...they originally
named me Malaika. They struggled to get any
financial support while in exile and started
carrying out bank expropriations to sustain
themselves. I was born in a shack, by the water
with no medical personnel, just a young woman (who
had finished high school at 16, college at 19 and
been declared a Mensa member) dead set on ensuring
that I would have a life.

In October of 1969 Delbert had been back in
Chicago. As he was driving back to Canada he
crashed and ended up in the hospital. Later, my
mom got word that he was the sole survivor of the
accident and unable to walk. She spoke of
bringing me back to Chicago, but he warned of
raids being enacted against the BPP in Chicago.
In December 1969, Fred Hampton, Sr. was murdered
and they knew we had to head elsewhere.

In March of 1970 Delbert and three other friends
decided to head down to Philadelphia because one
of them was originally from there. It was there
in Philadelphia that he met members of the MOVE
organization. He was inspired by their uplifting
approach to revolution and stayed on with them.
My mom stayed in Philly for a few years and
brought me back to Chicago in 1973. Meanwhile,
Delbert ended up becoming Minister of
Confrontation and Security for the MOVE Organization.

MOVE vs. The police

After countless false charges, ongoing harassment
and many altercations, police finally decided
that it was time for MOVE to be vanquished. When
the police raided the MOVE house in August 1978,
Delbert was the one videotaped being beaten
brutally by police. He suffered a broken jaw and
fractured eye socket from the attack.

Life in Prison

Delbert started his prison sentence out in the
"hole" for 6 years in a Dallas prison for
refusing to break his religious beliefs and cut
his hair. I was not allowed to visit with him
during this time. In fact, on one occasion my
Granny-- who didnt' drive-- enlisted her
girlfriend to drive us from Texas to Philly after
getting word that we could see him. Some 20 odd
hours later, we were denied because my birth
certificate "didn't look right". We traveled back
with me in tears. I did get to see him a year 1/2
later, though, making the same trek as
before. In December 1989 he was transferred out
of Dallas, they had riots at Camp Hill prison,
which though he wasn't even a part of, the state
prison used as an excuse to send him to the
Federal system. We didn't get word of his
transfer for 11 months! In federal prison he was
under 23 hour lock up, 24 hours lock up on
weekends where they wouldn't even let him out for
yard. He stayed in long-term solitary confinement
until May of that year. Then they transferred him
to another prison (again without informing his family).

At the new prison he was offered a job in the
printing shop. They were mystified when he turned
them down because pay was good for prison work-
$86 a month. Delbert explained the situation,

"I said, 'Naw, I don't want that." They said,
"Wait a minute. This is just starting off, you
can move right on up." I said, "Look, I've been
in the hole for 6 years. I want some air! I don't
want no career in the prison." So they assigned
me to the yard detail. And that was it, I loved
that. I stayed in there a year and they shipped
me back to state. When I got back they put me in
the hole for about 3 weeks, then I got out, they
put me in population.

That "population" consists of repeat rapists,
serial killers, true murderers and gang thugs.
What I have learned through my father/daughter
relationship is that I am loved (despite the
distance & circumstances) by two parents. I've
never heard anything remotely cult-ish come out
of my father's mouth. He's never "strongly
encouraged" me to join MOVE. He's been an
educator, mentor, protector and father as best as
he could given his situation. I love him, have no
shame to claim him and will forever be bound by our blood.

The May 13, 1985 bombing of the MOVE house
wasn't justice! The bombing resulted in 11
deaths, including 5 children and the group's
leader John Africa. Only 2 occupants survived,
Ramona, an adult and Birdy, a child. In addition,
60 homes were destroyed in the resulting fires.
There does come a time when HUMANITY should take
precedence over political agendas.

Shame on us all for allowing many others beyond
the MOVE 9 to be wrongfully incarcerated as well.


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