40 Years A Prisoner (2020) chronicles the controversial 1978 Philadelphia police raid on the radical back-to-nature group MOVE and a son’s decades-long fight to free his parents from prison in the aftermath. Directed by Tommy Oliver (1982), the film illuminates the story of a city grappling with racial tension and police brutality with alarming modern-day relevance. In addition to examining that fateful day through eyewitness interviews and archival footage, the film follows Mike Africa, Jr., the son of two MOVE members imprisoned for the death of a police officer, in his lifelong quest to secure release for the parents he has only ever known through prison walls.
The Carsey-Wolf Center and the UCSB Library’s UCSB Reads program were proud to present a conversation between documentary subject Mike Africa, Jr. and moderator Diane Fujino (Asian American Studies, UCSB) about the making of this powerful film.
Mike Africa Jr. (activist and documentary subject)
Mike Africa, Jr. is an activist and the host of the podcast “Ona Move w/Mike Africa, Jr.” He is the star of the HBOmax documentary 40 Years A Prisoner; he is also a stage performer, keynote speaker, and hip hop artist. Mike was born in a Philadelphia jail following a police raid on his parents’ home that led to their arrest and 100-year prison sentence. At age 6, he witnessed the smoke in the air from a police bomb that was dropped on his family’s home, killing his uncle, his cousin and nine other family members.
At 13, Mike began working to free his parents from prison. With the help of his family and attorney Brad Thomson, after over twenty-five years of struggle, Mike got his parents out of prison.
Moderator Diane Fujino
Diane Fujino is professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is author or co-editor of two new books — Black Power Afterlives: The Enduring Significance of the Black Panther Party and Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Radical Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake — and earlier books on Asian American activists Yuri Kochiyama, Richard Aoki, and Fred Ho, all influenced by the Black liberation movement.
This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.
Presented in conjunction with the 2021 UCSB Reads Program. Please visit this page for details about this year’s UCSB Reads lecture by Patrisse Cullors, author of When They Call You a Terrorist.
The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to screening documentaries from across the world that engage with contemporary and historical issues, especially regarding social justice and environmental concerns. Documentaries allow filmmakers to address pressing issues and frame the critical debates of our time.