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A Little Known Advocate For Civil Rights

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Many people think that the civil rights movement was born in the 1960s when Martin Luther King, Jr. marched in Selma, Alabama. Those in the fight for rights and freedom, before, during and after the Civil War are little known.

Octavius Catto, lived in Philadelphia and like King, believed in peaceful protests. He was a teacher who as a famed orator, shared the stage with Frederick Douglas and in 1864 “electrified” a biracial audience calling for change.

Catto worked to establish schools, to secure the vote, for better housing and integrated streetcars. A particularly interesting part of the book describes how Catto, a second baseman, organized baseball games between black and white teams.

A book that’s more than 500 pages is formidable; however Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America is a compelling read, bringing to life the story of a 19th century black Philadelphian, who was killed at 32 advocating non-violent change.

While the topic is heavy, this well-documented book by two former Philadelphia Inquirer reporters, Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin, holds interest throughout.

Reported By Dr. Marciene Mattleman, KYW Newsradio

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