Thursday, November 14, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Daniel Rudd

Daniel Rudd was born in 1854 to two slaves who lived on different plantations in the area of Bardstown, Ken. Both parents were Catholics. When he was baptized, his owner's daughter served as his sponsor.

After the Civil War, Rudd was educated in Ohio, where he worked as a journalist and founded a weekly newspaper, the Ohio State Tribune. He soon changed the name to the American Catholic Tribune (today known as the African American Catholic Tribune), which was the first Catholic publication owned and operated by a black man. He also worked for many years in Arkansas, where he invented a machine to load gravel and wrote a biography of the state's first black millionaire.

Rudd, who wanted to find a way to unite black Catholics and fight for their equality within the Church, founded the National Black Catholic Congress, then known as the Colored Catholic Congress, in 1889. During the first gathering, in Washington, D.C., President Grover Cleveland invited the group's leaders to the White House. Fr. Augustus Tolton, a man whom many consider to be the first black American Catholic priest, celebrated Mass for the group.

Rudd died in 1933, but the organization he founded still lives on. NBCC had its most recent conference in 2012 in Indianapolis.

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

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