Story at a glance:

  • The class is no longer available on Coursera.
    • The remains have never been positively identified, but most likely belong to one of two girls: a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old.
    • The children were members of the Move Black liberation movement.

The University of Pennsylvania is apologizing for using the bones of a Black child killed in a police bombing for its anthropology course online.

As Changing America previously reported, remains of one or two children are being used to teach University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University students without the permission of the surviving families.


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According to The Guardian, the bones most likely belong to 14-year-old Tree Africa or 12-year-old Delisha Africa — the surname Africa was part of the group's commitment to Black liberation.

“The Penn Museum and the University of Pennsylvania apologize to the Africa family and the members of our community for allowing human remains recovered from the MOVE house to be used for research and teaching, and for retaining the remains for far too long,” read the statement from provost Wendell Pritchett and Christopher Woods, director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

“The Museum has promised to reassess our practices of collecting, stewarding, displaying, and researching human remains, and we are committed to this promise. It is now obvious, however, that this reassessment must also include how human remains are used in teaching as well as a comprehensive review of the holdings and collection practices of our Physical Anthropology section,” the statement continued.

The children were members of a Black liberation movement in Philadelphia called Move. The organization was similarly structured to the Black Panther Party, but it heavily prioritizes environmental justice. 

When Move was bombed in May 1985, five children, ages 7 to 14, died in the police killing.  

The course is no longer taught under an online study platform, Coursera, called Real Bones: Adventures in Forensic Anthropology, and its trailer on YouTube has been removed.


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Published on Apr 29, 2021