Michael Davis Africa and Debbie Sims Africa were married in a lovely afternoon ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2019. The ceremony took place at noon at The Sword of the Spirit Church in Lansdowne, Pa.
Dr. Crystal Luckey was the wedding officiant and the bride was given and in marriage her son Michael Africa Jr. and daughter. Debbie’s bridal gown was an elegant, form-fitting lace design with a sheer combination of shimmering pale blue. Rhinestones sparsely and delicate placed throughout the bridal gown added just the right touch as did Debbie’s fragrant bouquet of red and orange rose bouquet with baby’s breath.
Michael, 63, is from Philadelphia. Michael’s parents are James Davis and Lydia Nelson. He is a graduate of Overbrook High School. He has associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from Villanova University. Michael has also founded a mentoring program that offers young men and women knowledge and wisdom on the topics of the dangers of prison and how to avoid it as well as a reentry program for returning citizens.
Together, Michael and Debbie operate a nonprofit called The Seed of Wisdom Foundation. Michael explained, “It is a family-based organization that encourages young people to be healthy and fit.”
Debbie, 62, is also from Philadelphia. She is the daughter of Charles Sims and LaVerne Leaphart. Debbie is a also graduate from Overbrook High School. She is a master gardener. She also earned a certificate in cosmetology.
Debbie’s bridesmaids were her sisters Gail and Sharon. The maid of honor was her daughter. The flower girl was Michael Jr.’s daughter Alia. Perhaps untraditionally, Michael was lovingly given away in marriage by his daughters Demorrow Bond and Sherese Knight. The groom’s best man was his son Michael Africa Jr.
Michael and Debbie met in West Philadelphia in the summer of 1969. They lived around the corner from each other. They met while playing a game of king ball during a block party festival. Debbie, uninterested and taken at the time was pursued relentlessly by Michael to give him a chance. She eventually gave in and the two have been together ever since. They were separated while each served 40 years in prison for charges related to the 1978 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp during a shootout at MOVE’s Powelton Village compound. They were reunited upon their release from prison in 2018.
“Upon release from prison, one of the things that was on my list long since before prison was to marry Debbie. Prison forced me to wait 40 years longer than I wanted to. So, as soon as I got home, I began to talk to my son about it. He immediately started making phone calls and planning for the wedding. I then went to the other room and told Debbie, ‘I want to marry you. Will you marry me?’ And with laugh she said yes of course. My son Michael Jr. then planned and set up the wedding.
Reflections … in their words
“Our wedding was the most amazing day ever. It seemed to go by so fast. We wish we could relive that day every day for the rest of our lives. We made our own wedding cake and it was beautiful. We live together in a way that we dreamed of for the last 40 years and the wedding was just a very special topping. The high moment of our wedding was the whole day. We think back at certain parts of the day that we remember that really stood out and as we watch some of the video footage, we see other parts that were just as spectacular. It was all just fabulous!”
Best wishes and congratulations to Michael Davis Africa and Debbie Sims Africa!
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