Civil Rights and War Hero Octavius Catto to Become Philadelphia’s 1st African American Honored With a Public Statue

This model of the Octavius V. Catto Memorial shows the statue, pillars and ballot box elements that will make up the $1.75 million project. (photo via phillyvoice.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to blavity.comOctavius Valentine Catto will be honored with a statue outside of Philadelphia’s city hall this September. Catto’s statue will be the first monument built to honor an African American erected on public land in the City of Brotherly Love. Although Catto’s memorial has been in the works for years, in the wake of the push to take so many Confederate statues down across the nation, the timing for this statue’s unveiling could not be better.

In Charleston, South Carolina on February 22, 1839, Catto was born a free black man. Catto excelled at his studies, attending a school for black children in Philadelphia, the Institute for Colored Youth, an institution he later led.

According to phillyvoice.com, in his early 20s, Catto was already an active leader in the African American community. He was a member of the 4th Ward Black Political Club, the Union League Association, the Library Company and the Franklin Institute. He demanded that African Americans fight in the Civil War and helped get their regiments inducted into the war. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, he joined the army and enlisted as a volunteer in defense of the state of Pennsylvania.

Octavius Catto (photo via phillyvoice.com)

Catto was also a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard and played baseball as captain and second baseman for the Pythians, an African American baseball team. He was inducted into the Negro League Baseball Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Beyond being an educator, ball player and a war hero, Philadelphia is celebrating Catto for his local civil rights activism, which went into full gear after he was kicked off of a segregated horse-drawn trolley. He staged a sit-in on the streetcars, refusing to move off of the car. The driver drove the car off of its track and unhitched its horses, unsure how else to get rid of Catto. Catto remained aboard; the other passengers and the driver left him there. Catto also defended several black women who were forcibly ejected from the city’s streetcars, and used a fine levied against his fiancée to drum up publicity for his cause. Finally, in 1867, due in large part to Catto’s pressure, the city desegregated its streetcars.

“In Philadelphia, at that time, you could be wearing a Civil War uniform and not have been able to get on that trolley car,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who has been hoping to bring a statue of Catto to the city since at least 2003, after he learned the story of Catto’s life. “[Knowing this] you realize, this struggle isn’t just a 1960s struggle. It’s a struggle from the beginning of the country.” Continue reading

Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic to be Scripted by “Remember The Titans” Writer Gregory Allen Howard

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo via powerpacplus.org)

by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard has teamed with Chris Columbus1492 production company to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper with a sixth-grade education who became an important voting-rights advocate and founded the first integrated political party in the South in mid-’60s Mississippi.

Hamer grew up in a family of 20 kids and picked cotton for most of her life. After going to a doctor to have a tumor removed, she discovered she was given a hysterectomy at age 47 by a white doctor, without her consent, because of a movement by the state to sterilize women to reduce the number of poor blacks in Mississippi.

Hamer became a Civil Rights activist, surviving assassination attempts

Gregory Allen Howard (photo via deadline.com)

and a near-fatal beating to get her moment at the Democratic National Convention, where she challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 with her legendary, “Is This America?” speech.

While LBJ hastily called a ruse press conference in the hope of diverting attention away from her speech, Hamer’s powerful words were widely broadcast and reverberated around the world. Howard, who studied Hamer’s accomplishments as a college student, has long been obsessed with bringing her story to the screen. Hamer died in 1977.

To read more, go to: Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Movie; Gregory Allen Howard script | Deadline

Donella Wilson, 107-Year-Old Daughter of a Slave, Ready to Cast Her Vote Once More

Donella Wilson

Donella Wilson WISTV SCREENSHOT (photo via theroot.com)

article by via theroot.com

Donella Wilson, at 107 years old, has never missed a local or national election since she cast her first vote in the 1940s.  And Wilson, who was born in South Carolina to parents who were former slaves, says she is ready to cast her vote one more time and perhaps make history once again.

“I never thought I would live to see a day like this,” Wilson told WISTV.com. “I’m over 100 years old!”

Wilson has had to struggle some recently to retain her right to vote. She had to secure a new ID and registration card, but now she is ready and prepared for her opportunity to say something, and is heading to the polls, not just to back up her beliefs, but to remember those who came before who fought for the right she currently has.

“We couldn’t spell ‘vote,’” Wilson told the news station. “We didn’t know what the word meant other than we had an opportunity to say something and cast a vote, praying as we go along, that the vote could count to help us as a Negro race.”

Wilson said she remembers President Barack Obama’s historic election, expressing how “proud and thankful” she was to witness it.

And she hopes to witness history once again on Tuesday, saying that she planned to cast her vote for Hillary Clinton.  “I’m looking for her to be our first female president,” she said. “I think it’s an honor, a precious gift from God.”

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/11/107-year-old-daughter-of-a-slave-ready-to-cast-her-vote-once-more/

Duke University Debuts Website Documenting SNCC & the Voting Rights Struggle

Vq1ywrurDuke University in Durham, North Carolina, has just debuted a new website documenting the struggle of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to secure voting rights for African Americans. The site, entitled “One Person, One Vote: The Legacy of the SNCC and the Fight for Voting Rights,” went live one week before the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.

Students and faculty at Duke University worked with veterans of SNCC and other civil rights leaders to develop the website. The site includes a timeline, profiles of the key figures in the struggle to secure voting rights, and stories relating to the struggle.

5193ppoofzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Wesley Hogan, the director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the author of Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC’s Dream for a New America (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), stated that “this is an enormous achievement, to find ways to bring these experts who were so central to the voting rights struggle, into the formal historical record through their own words and on their own terms. The project comes at a moment when our nation is both commemorating key victories of the civil rights movement and seeing those victories challenged by new restrictive voting laws in many states.”

 

article via jbhe.com

Election Day: Have You Voted? #AllVotesMatter #BlackVotesMatter

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Just a quick reminder if you haven’t found a moment to make it to the polls yet today, there’s still time!  GBN Lifestyle/Sports Editor Lesa Lakin and I have taken the #blackwomenvote initiative seriously and hit the polls already – fortunately we had good weather – we hope you can find time to do the same if you haven’t already.  Voting is important… as our history and the poster below remind us:

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If you don’t like your local, state or federal laws or officials, get out there and help foster change by making your voice heard.  If you’re not sure where your polling place is, click here to enter your address and find out!

Onward and upward, together!

Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Join the #BlackWomenVote Campaign – Midterms in November Really Matter

Voters Head To Polls For DC's Primary (Photo: Getty)

Voters Head To Polls For DC’s Primary (Photo: Getty)

The Higher Heights Leadership Fund is on a mission to get more black women to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. The 2012 presidential elections had the biggest turnout for black women, with black women consisting of nearly 60% of black voters who participated. They actually had the highest turnout of any group.

And yet the number isn’t nearly the same for midterm elections. Just 46.5% of black women voted in the 2010 midterms. It’s not easy to get people excited or interested in midterm elections, but these elections do matter.

It’s incredibly important to create a more representative democracy in our country. That goes for those who vote as well as those we elect. And black women are underrepresented in our government.

So the Higher Heights Leadership Fund started the #BlackWomenVote campaign in order to get more black women to the polls during these upcoming midterm elections.

#BlackWomenVote provides information about voting and the election, like “Pledge to be a Higher Heights Voter,” “Personal Voting Plan,” “Knowing your Voter Status,” “Sister-to-Sister Calling List,” and “Activate your Online Network.”

“Black women have the potential to take this country by storm. We have the collective power to elect representatives who will champion our interests and support legislative actions that will that will improve education, health care and economic opportunities for our communities,” the Black Women Vote website states.

It’s so important to get out and vote and make our government a more representative one.

This is the only way to ensure that every voice is heard. Voters have the opportunity to make sure that their interests are being taken into account and that they have someone speaking up for those interests. The midterm elections might not seem as important as a Presidential election, but they really could have a big affect on people’s lives. Will you join #BlackWomenVote?

article by Robin Lempel via act.mtv.com

 

Attorney General Eric Holder Calls for Ex-Felons to Get Their Voting Rights Back

eric holder

Attorney General Eric Holder called on a group of states Tuesday to restore voting rights to ex-felons, part of a push to fix what he sees as flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disparate impact on racial minorities.

“By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes,” Holder said during a speech at a criminal justice reform event hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday. “They undermine the reentry process and defy the principles of accountability and rehabilitation that guide our criminal justice policies. And however well-intentioned current advocates of felony disenfranchisement may be, the reality is that these measures are, at best, profoundly outdated.”

From the Washington Post:

Holder said that current laws forbidding felons from voting make it harder for them to reintegrate into society. He pointed to a recent study, which showed that felons in Florida who were granted the right to vote again had a lower recidivism rate. …

Holder does not have the authority to force states to change their laws, but his request could influence the debate to restore voting rights. His appeal is part of a broader effort currently underway by the Justice Department to reform the criminal justice system, which U.S. officials say often treats minority groups unfairly.

Eleven states currently restrict voting rights after a person has been released from prison and is no longer on probation and parole. These laws affect about 5.8 million Americans. It’s estimated that 2.2 million are black citizens—or nearly one in 13 African-American adults. 

“It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Holder said. “These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”

article via clutchmagonline.com