Robert Branch (Living Historian) on “Octavius V. Catto”
In the mid-1800s Octavius Valentine Catto blazed new trails for equal rights for people of color. Modern day heroes such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Jackie Robinson would walk in his footsteps more than 100 years later. Although Octavius Catto lived a full and dramatic life in Philadelphia, too many Philadelphians have never even heard his name. Until now. W were introduced to one of the most inspirational leaders of all time.
Robert Branch is a native Philadelphian who earned his Bachelor of Science degree for mechanical engineering from Swarthmore College. He won the Innovator award from the Electric Power Research Institute for his work in foundry sand reclamation. He later spent over ten years working with disadvantaged children in South Africa, where he was named Volunteer of the Year. Upon his return to the U.S., he decided to pursue a career as a performer. He works as a historic interpreter, storyteller and tour guide. Robert Branch portrayed Octavius Valentine Catto during Mayor Nutter’s press conference to announce the city’s contribution toward a project to erect a statue at City Hall in Catto’s honor. Robert has also performed Catto to support diversity initiatives at PNC Bank, law firms, universities, and schools.