Dozens gathered to honor civil rights trailblazer Octavius Catto

Kimberly Adams
February 24, 2019 - 4:50 pm

Kimberly Adams/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- He was local educator, athlete and best remembered as a civil rights activist who died fighting for change. Octavius V. Catto was remembered Sunday outside of City Hall.

A gun salute then words of praise as more than 50 people stood in front of the 12 foot tall bronze statue of 19th century Philadelphia activist Octavius V. Catto.

“He was a great American hero, trying to protect community during the election riots of 1871," said Temple University’s Civil War and Emancipation Studies professor Andy Waskie.

Waskie says Catto was born free in South Carolina and this honor is fitting during Catto's birthday month.

READ: Temple launches scholarship to help first-generation students

"He believed in activism, he believed in the rights, and the intellectual pursuits, he founded the Literary Institute,” he explained.

After the wreath laying and tributes, Stephanie Reighard from Johnstown, capped off what the day meant to her.

"It’s an incredible event,” she said. “It's very important to honor his memory and everything he did for the military to bring people together."

Reighard says that it was a special day for her family since her husband Brian joined several National Guard members receiving an Octavius Catto medal, in later ceremony.