You would think that a man who OKd a bombing that killed 11 people, including five children, would be forever disqualified from having a city street named after him.
But this is Philly.
And this week, the 2400 block of North 59th Street will officially come to be known as W. Wilson Goode Sr. Way. It will be named after the former mayor who authorized Philadelphia police to drop a bomb on a house with people inside.
City Council members Curtis Jones, Cherelle Parker, Derek Green, Mark Squilla and Jannie Blackwell introduced a resolution on June 14 to name the street for Goode. It was adopted the following week before Council broke for summer recess.
This is a disgrace. Just thinking about it makes me hot.
For those who have forgotten what happened that awful day more than 30 years ago, let me refresh your memory: It was May 13, 1985. Philadelphia police were trying to arrest MOVE members holed up inside a house at 6221 Osage Ave. in Cobbs Creek. A protracted shootout ensued during which police fired 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
When MOVE members continued to defy police commands to exit, Goode allowed a bomb, made from C-4 explosives, to be dropped on the building from a helicopter. Only two of the 13 people inside survived. The resulting fire was allowed to burn for 45 minutes and eventually consumed the entire block. Sixty-one houses were destroyed and an entire neighborhood devastated.
Goode publicly apologized but no city employee ever faced criminal charges.
Afterward, Philly became the talk of the country and for good reason. What mayor bombs its own citizens and destroys an entire city block?
Time has a way of dulling even the most painful memories. To his credit, Goode, who went on to serve a second term, has spent almost a lifetime living down that awful decision that day. You can't deny that Goode, the son of sharecroppers from North Carolina, has an amazing story. Philly's first black mayor will always be remembered for how he helped minorities obtain municipal contracts and high-level jobs that they were once excluded from getting.
An ordained minister since 1999, Goode went on to create Amachi: People of Faith Mentoring Children of Promise to help kids whose parents were incarcerated. He recently published his second book called, Black Voters Mattered: A Philadelphia Story, about the rise of local black politicians.
He's a good man and deserving of all kinds of accolades — but not having a street renamed after him. That should be reserved for those icons amongst us who built the city up — not bombed it.
The renaming of Glenwood Avenue between Broad Street and Germantown Avenue "Smokin' Joe Frazier Boulevard" was a good move. And I was thrilled that a portion of Broad Street from Christian to Carpenter Streets has become "Boyz II Men Boulevard." Same with the 2300 block of South Street, which was named for the late Lois Fernandez, the iconic founder of the Odunde festival and with a portion of 11th Street between Pattison and Terminal Avenues dubbed "Ed Snider Way."
But W. Wilson Goode Sr. Way? Nah.
Meanwhile, the official ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday. I will not be there. Nor will a whole lot of other folks.
Naming a street after someone is among the highest honors a city can bestow upon one of its own. It shouldn't go to someone who got us the nickname, "The City that Bombed Itself."