Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Octavius Catto - Why have I never heard of him?

I was looking up a location on Google Maps for the Philadelphia area, when I found a marker for "Octavius Cato grave". It was the only specific marker in the list; the others being cemeteries and public transportation stops. Curious, I clicked on it (especially since I've never heard of Octavius Catto).

The top of his memorial stone reads "The Forgotten Hero", and this is definitely true. I wish they would have at least mentioned him in high school American history class. He was a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1800's, tirelessly fought for voting rights for blacks, was headmaster of what is now Cheyney University, served as a Major in the Union Army in the Civil War and was assassinated on election day in front of a polling place in Philadelphia! If all that isn't enough to keep him off the "forgotten" list, I don't know what is. Yes, I got all that information from his memorial stone. But I intend to learn more about him. I have found links to a book about Catto (Tasting Freedom by Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin), information about him on ushistory.org, and a biography of him on Temple University's website. All of which I intend to read, the latter two as soon as I am done typing this blog post.

His sheer volume of accomplishments is astounding. (My glances at the other links have gleaned the additional information that he was a founder of an all-black baseball team.) If not for the Internet, I may have never heard of this great American hero!