Hey MMT Fam! One of the reasons I love my hometown is because it is one of the most culturally rich and historic cities in our country. A great display of this has been the seven-month long Philadelphia Freedom Project series, sponsored by the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, which began last February in honor of “Philadelphia Freedom Fighter” Octavius V. Catto.
Here’s a little background for those who may be unfamiliar with his story. Catto was born in Charleston, S.C. in 1839 and settled in Philadelphia with his family in 1850. A well-educated man with a dedication to learning, he graduated valedictorian from the Institute for Colored Youth, now known as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. He was insistent on equality for all men and became a leader of local and national prominence for enfranchisement and civil rights for African-Americans. He worked alongside other black leaders, including Frederick Douglas, to fight for equality. On Election Day, Oct. 10, 1871, Catto was murdered on his doorsteps for his efforts. He remains an important figure in early civil rights history for both the Philadelphia region and our nation. To acknowledge his legacy, later this year Catto’s will be the first installation of a statue commemorating an African-American in Philadelphia.
As part of the festival to celebrate Catto’s memory, the Mann, in partnership with the Art Sanctuary, will present the Freedom Rap Session this Saturday, June 7 at 1 pm. This event will showcase hip-hop artists and scholars, who have experienced and studied racism in Philadelphia, that will discuss how the power of music is reflected in their words.
This event is a great way to not only celebrate the memory of Octavius V. Catto, but to give a timely welcome to June as Black Music Month. And the best part? Tickets are free! But registration is required, and tickets are going fast, so click here to go to the Eventbrite site to claim your passes (first come-first served).
Please stop back family and let me know if you attend! And shout out to the phenomenal spoken-word artist Nina “Lyrispect” Ball, who is one of the special guests.
Until next thought family, Thomasena