octavius catto

A few weekends ago we drove past City Hall and saw that a statue was hanging in the air from it’s armpits. Big spikes protruded from the base, ready to help anchor the piece permanently.


We came home and searched around online to figure out who this statue represented — it was certainly a black man. We discovered it was Octavius Valentine Catto, a civil rights martyr, an activist and athlete, and, from the looks of him, a dandy 19th-century gentleman to rival Marcel Proust. (He was in fact called by some “the 19th-century Martin Luther King”.)

It seems amazing that Catto’s memorial should be the first of any African-American in the city of Philadelphia… that took a long time, people. We decided we would go to the unveiling.

And the kids met the Mayor, whose dream had come true this day with the realization of the memorial. He had been planning it for something like fifteen years.


It was a hot day in late September, but we were so close to the Power Pick, which we knew would not be there forever, we took our opportunity to go have a look, and for the kids to do some sketching.



Go see the Memorial — it is more than just the statue of Catto, and is really lovely.