Dear Philly: Stop Patting Yourself on the Back of the Octavius Catto Statue
In case you missed it, the Octavius Catto statue was finally unveiled at City Hall on Tuesday. There were lots of Very Important People. There was a gospel choir. There was musket fire. That’s all well and good. Octavius Catto was a great man. But let this sink in for a minute: It’s 2017 and the Octavius Catto statue is the first statue on Philadelphia public property honoring a Black individual.
I repeat, in case you didn’t quite grasp the significance of what I just said:
The Octavius Catto statue is the first statue on Philadelphia public property honoring a Black individual. And it was put up yesterday. In 2017.
Listen, I’m very much a “statutes over statues” person. I’m much more concerned about statutes that promote justice than I am about statues.
But when I saw the Octavius Catto statue rise at City Hall this week, it got me thinking about other Black people who lived here that are long overdue for their day in bronze on public property. Here’s my short list.