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Mrs. Goode Denies She Asked MOVE Artwork Be Removed

February 21, 1986

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The wife of Mayor W. Wilson Goode has denied she tried to get a sculpture depicting the MOVE fire removed from an art exhibit at her daughter’s law school.

Velma Goode said Wednesday that she and her husband believe in an artist’s right to free expression and would never attempt to have the artwork removed.

The 7-foot relief sculpture by artist Ellen Powell-Tiberino has vivid red and yellow hues of fire consuming John Africa, the leader of the radical group, another man with a dog and a MOVE child. A figure of death holding a mask of the mayor’s face hovers above.

Mrs. Goode said she hasn’t seen the work at Temple University Law School, but called it ″offensive.″

Last May 13, 11 MOVE members died and 61 rowhouses were destroyed by a fire started when police dropped a bomb on the fortified MOVE house after a daylong siege. Police had gone to the MOVE rowhouse in an attempt to arrest four MOVE members and evict the others.

Mrs. Goode telephoned the Philadelphia Daily News to ″set the record straight.″ She said she never tried to get the sculpture removed from the law school’s main lobby, as a source had told the newspaper.

″We are a strong family and we are able to put this thing in its proper perspective,″ the mayor’s wife told the newspaper. ″We’re no basket case.″

″I know Wilson Goode as a husband. We know Wilson Goode as a father,″ she said. ″We know his intent and what he wanted to do (on May 13) and it wasn’t to hurt anyone.″

Her daughter Muriel Goode is president of the Black American Law Student Association which asked the college to sponsor the Black History Month art show which includes the sculpture.

Miss Goode saw the work several days before its unveiling on Jan. 30 and was upset, Mrs. Goode said. The exhibit runs through March 30.

Mrs. Goode said she was not concerned about her daughter’s reactions because the third-year law student is a ″very strong person.″ Mrs. Goode said she didn’t immediately tell her husband about the sculpture to prevent any controversy that would focus more attention on it.

The mayor learned about the artwork when a reporter asked him Monday if he or his wife had sought the aid of an official from the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum to get the sculpture removed.

Mrs. Goode, a museum board member, said she contacted museum officials to investigate what involvement the institution had in the selection of the artwork for Temple, but was told they were not involved.

″If the museum was involved, I would have brought it up at the next board meeting and would have suggested an analysis of the process used to screen artwork for viewing,″ she said.

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