Delbert Orr Africa was born April 2, 1946. As a young man he joined the Chicago Chapter of the Black Panther Party. In 1969 the FBI put forth false warrants on the Chicago BPP leadership, including Delbert. He and others then fled to Canada. They struggled to get any financial support while in exile and received support from others in the struggle. Many reports have listed them as carrying out bank expropriations to sustain themselves, which is false.
In September 1969, he had a daughter Yvonne Malaika with Christina May, a Chicago Black Panther Party officer while in Canada. 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.
In March of 1970 Delbert, along with his family 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.
He ended up becoming Minister of Confrontation and Security for the MOVE Organization.
Delbert was arrested on August 8, 1978 as one of the MOVE 9. When the police raided the MOVE house, Delbert was the one was videotaped being beaten brutally by police. He suffered a broken jaw and fractured eye socket from the attack. They were each wrongly convicted of murder, assault and conspiracy by the late Judge Edwin S. Malmed and each sentenced to 30-100 years in prison.
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. In December 1989 he was transferred out of Dallas because 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.
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.
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.
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In 2018, the PA Dept of Corrections instituted a restrictive mail policy where all mail to prisoners must be sent through a mail processing facility in Florida where all correspondence is scanned, copied and then the copy is mailed to the prisoner. There is an active campaign to get Gov. Wolf to repeal the restrictive policy so that friends and family member can send mail such as greeting cards again.