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HBCU NOTABLE / February 2022
HBCU NOTABLE / February 2022

Cheyney University Notable

Octavius Valentine Catto (Feb. 22, 1839 – Oct. 10, 1871) was an educator, intellectual, and civil rights activist in Philadelphia. He became principal of male students at the Institute for Colored Youth, where he had also been educated. Born free in Charleston, South Carolina, in a prominent mixed-race family, he moved north as a boy with his family. He became educated and served as a teacher, becoming active in civil rights. He also became known as a top cricket and baseball player in 19th-century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Republican, he was shot and killed in election-day violence in Philadelphia, where ethnic Irish of the Democratic Party, which was anti-Reconstruction and had opposed black suffrage, attacked black men to prevent their voting for Republican candidates

Catto's crusade for equal rights was capped in March 1869, when Pennsylvania voted to ratify the 15th Amendment, which prohibited discrimination against citizens in registration and voting based on race, color, or prior condition; effectively, it provided suffrage to black men. (No women then had the vote.) It was fully ratified in 1870.

On his way to vote, Catto was intermittently harassed by whites. Police reports indicate that he had purchased a revolver for protection. At the intersection of Ninth and South streets, Catto was accosted by Frank Kelly, an ethnic Irish man, who shot him three times. Catto died of his wounds. The city inquest was not able to determine if Catto had pulled his own gun. Kelly was not convicted of assault or murder.

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors. (2021, December 11). Octavius Catto. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:46, January 27, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title=Octavius_Catto&oldid=1059778699

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