Civil rights pioneer Octavius Catto

Octavius Catto civil rights pioneer

Octavius Catto was an influential civil rights activist in the city of Philadelphia during the 1860s.  Today, many are unaware of the contributions Catto made to promote equity and social justice.  The desegregation of Philadelphia’s horse-drawn public transit streetcar system can be directly attributed to Catto’s efforts.

In the late 1860’s Catto became a national spokesperson for enfranchisement and civil rights for African Americans.  Prior to that he supported the Union cause and the Lincoln Administration by raising one of the first volunteer companies of all Black soldiers for the war effort.

Author Dan Biddle, who co-authored a book about Catto, suggests Catto and other early civil rights pioneers like him, helped to laid the foundation "that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy ... stood on top of."