Taking a Stand for Equality
Taking a Stand for Equality highlights Octavius V. Catto’s legacy of activism for equal access to education, public transportation, voting rights, and full citizenship. Known for the courage of his convictions, dynamic personality, and erudition, Catto embodied the values of Philadelphia’s emerging black middle class. His death in 1871 at age 32 from an assassin’s bullet, meant to intimate black voters, had the opposite effect. Catto’s fellow activists, both black and white, honored him by continuing the struggle for full equality. Today Philadelphia honors his legacy by erecting a statue of Catto on the apron of City Hall. The dedication is slated for September 26, 2017.
The exhibition will feature artifacts from Philadelphia’s historic African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas where Catto served on the vestry, the Octavius V. Catto Elks Lodge No. 20 Order of the Benevolent Elks of the World, City of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia History Museum. Documents and images recording Catto’s life and service will come from area institutions including the Philadelphia City Archives, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Library Company of Philadelphia, and the University of Delaware. History Making Production new film Catto: A Legacy for the 21st Century will be on view in the gallery.