MLK Week Concludes with Documentary Screening

Let the Fire Burn, a documentary film about the burning of Osage Avenue in the city of Philadelphia, was screened Thursday evening, January 24, in the Lenfest Theater.

The documentary focuses on the controversial confrontation in May 1985 when Philadelphia police clashed with members of the MOVE organization who were living in a row home in the city’s Cobb’s Creek section. The film includes testimony provided before a public commission that later found the city and police department negligent in the handling of the incident.

Collegeville Mayor Rev. Dr. Aidsand Wright Riggins was on hand to introduce the film and spoke about the importance of making choices that value human life. In reflecting on the film, the mayor noted, “I pray that I and other public servants have learned how to move from mediation.”

A panel following the film was moderated by Edward Onaci, an assistant professor of history, and included two long-time members of MOVE, Pam Africa and Michael Africa, Jr., along with activist and organizer Gabriel Bryant. The panelists described their personal relationship to MOVE and answered questions from the audience that reflected on the film, as well as the events surrounding the 1985 fire and the experience of MOVE in the years since. –By Monique Kelly