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The Story of the Forgotten Hero: Octavius Catto

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Nineteenth Century activist Octavius Catto. Wikipedia Commons.


  1. Octavius Catto was born a freeman in 1839, in South Carolina. His family later moved to Philadelphia where he grew up.
  2. He later became the valedictorian at his school Institute for Colored Youth
  3. During the Civil War, Catto worked alongside Fredrick Douglas to recuite African-Americans to fight in the war.
  4. Catto co-founded the Philadelphia Pythians, one of the first African-American baseball clubs.
  5. The activist defied the ban of African-Americans being unable to ride in a streetcar. By 1867, with Catto’s persistence, Blacks were allowed to ride the streetcars.
  6. Catto helped ratify the 15th Amendment that allowed Black men the right to vote In 1870.
  7. Catto worked towards getting Black men to register to vote even though a lot of Blacks were threatened and terrorised at voting booths.
  8. On election Day 1871, Catto was shot and killed. He was only 32 years old. His murderer was acquitted from all charges.
  9. In 2017, a 12-foot bronze statue of Catto was unveiled in Philadelphia.
  10. In 2007, a headstone was made for Catto at his burial site at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.
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