Catto Memorial, <em>Quest for Parity</em>, at Philadelphia City Hall. Branly Cadet, artist.
National Colored Union Convention by Theodore R. Davis, Harper Weekly, February 1869

About Us

This web portal feature is hosted and managed by Independence Hall Association, owner of It was undertaken with the erection of the Catto Memorial at Philadelphia City Hall. Dedicated in September 2017, the memorial is the first public monument in Philadelphia on public lands honoring an African American, Octavius V. Catto.

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Did You Know?

When the Constitution was ratified, not all persons in the United States were considered citizens. Citizenship was contentious in America, despite the promise of liberty and equality in the Declaration of Independence.  The Civil War marked an important turning point for the expansion of both citizenship and the way the world and Americans viewed immigration and American citizenship.

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Octavius Catto, Broadbent and Phillips Albumen silver print 1871, National Portrait Gallery
United States Colored Troop soldier and family, 1863, Library of Congress
Remembering a Forgotten Hero (Mural Design) © 2018 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Willis

Octavius Catto: A Timeline

Like every person, O.V. Catto was shaped by his environment and people around him. The timeline here places Catto within the context of his life-shaping environments and events leading up to the birth of Martin Luther King.  This extends the story out to the American Civil Rights story into the early 20th century.

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3.9 M
enslaved blacks in US in 1860
90 %
of the us black population enslaved in 1860
O.V. Catto Elk Lodge Banner, courtesy of Philadelphia History Museum
free blacks in us in 1860
african americans lived in pennsylvania in 1870

Educational Resources

The education resources here are grounded in “responsive teaching” pedagogic approach. It integrates academics with students’ social-emotional needs and skills to create an environment where students can do their best learning regardless of classroom settings. Also featured are:

  • A special education supplement, Remembering a Forgotten Hero, created by master teacher Amy Cohen, Education Director for History Making Productions, and
  • Content designed to support unique needs for education environments with English Language Learners.
<em>Rowdy Emancipation Beating of African Americans</em>, 1863. Courtesy of Historical Society of Pennsylvania Digital Collections

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