Reenactor Bob Branch brought mid-Nineteenth-Century African American educator, intellectual, and civil rights activist Octavius Valentine Catto to life during our worship service on February 25.
Branch’s spirited and insightful first-person narrative followed Catto’s career as an advocate for greater freedom and equality for African Americans and the tragic consequence of his leading role in advancing voting rights. Catto was shot and killed in Philadelphia on Election Day, October 1871, a day marked with violence as white rioters stormed through black neighborhoods attempting to suppress the black vote.
The service featuring the Catto reenactment capped off several services commemorating Black History Month. The commemoration kicked off on January 28 with a service focused on Harriet Tubman, reenacted by Millicent Sparks. and continued with a service on February 18, led by our own resident historian Mike Burkhimer, focused on Abraham Lincoln as a voting rights martyr.