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The Octavius V. Catto Memorial
A Quest for Parity

This ground-breaking memorial is in deliberate dialogue with its site, which is both the center of government and a major transportation hub. Comprised of various sculptural elements including a 10-foot bronze sculpture of Octavius V. Catto, the memorial celebrates the Civil-War-era educator’s efforts to ensure freedom of movement, desegregation and civic engagement, namely the right to vote.


A granite abstraction of an 1860’s horse-drawn streetcar stands behind the figure of Catto, who, a century before Rosa Parks, sought to desegregate the horse-drawn streetcar by waging protests and sit-ins. A steel representation of a mid-nineteenth century ballot box reflects Catto’s efforts to get the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in Pennsylvania, giving all men — regardless of race — the right to vote. The granite forms of the horse-drawn streetcar and the ballot box are engraved and adorned with text and bronze bas-relief plaques depicting various aspects of Catto’s contributions to education, the military, sports, activism, and leadership.


The reflective surfaces of the granite and the ballot box—along with Catto’s outstretched arms—serve as open and ongoing invitations to the public to see themselves as not only the inheritors of Catto’s envisioned future but also as active agents of change.

Listed below are some of the resources, talented individuals, institutions and groups who each had a hand in helping to birth this memorial:


"Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America" by D. Biddle & M. Dubin

"Murder of Octavius Catto" by A. Smith

"The Forgotten Hero" by D. Biddle & M. Dubin

The Library Company of Philadelphia

Historical Society of Pennsylvannia

Pennsylvannia Trolley Museum


Octavius V. Catto Memorial Fund
Carol Lawrence
James Straw

V. Chapman Smith

The Roz Group

The Philadelphia Foundation

Philadelphia City Hall
Hon. James Kenney

Deborah Mahler

Martin O'Rourke

Olin Studio

Greg Burrell


Julie Wiley








CVM Next

Sameh Majid

Porter Gould

Donald Sholtz

The Lighting Practice
Artworks Foundry
Coldspring Granite

Polich Tallix Foundry

Marquez Cadet, P.E.

David Banyard

Susan Davis
Satellite Models
Phoenix Masonry
Michael Zetlin, Esq.

Consuelo Vasquez, Esq.

Nancy Chung, Esq.
Akin Gump LLP

Jason Webster
Chris Stewart

Vanessa Whang

Laila Mehta

Natasha Singh
John Russell
Marie Claire Casimir

There are many more people involved, both seen and unseen, whom I've, no doubt, left off this list. If there are any omissions, they are an oversight on my part and not a reflection of the immense gratitude I feel.

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