PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The City of Philadelphia is making a donation of a half-million dollars to support efforts to build a memorial statue to 19th Century civil rights activist Octavius V. Catto.

With applause and shouts of “O.V.!” from members of the OV Catto Elks Lodge 20, Mayor Michael Nutter announced the City of Philadelphia’s committment of $500,000 over two years for a memorial statue of Catto, who pressed for the desegregation of Philadelphia’s mass transit system in the 1860s and was murdered in 1871 while trying to vote.

Learn more about Octavius Valentine Catto

Councilman Jim Kenney (at lectern) says this will jump-start fundraising efforts for the $2-million project (see previous story).

“Hopefully it will spur some corporate and foundation contributions.  And the mayor has a lot of clout when it comes to making a few phone calls,” Kenney said on Monday.

“We’re going to help support them in any way we can,” said Gregory Freeman (wearing white fez), whose title at OV Catto Lodge 20 is Esteemed Exalted Leader.

The memorial will be set up on the southwest corner of Dilworth Plaza, adjacent to City Hall.

Reported by Karin Phillips, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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