Philadelphia Freedom Festival visits local elementary schools

Watch the report from Action News' Lisa Thomas-Laury.
February 11, 2014 3:15:57 PM PST
The Mann Center's Philadelphia Freedom Festival brought the inspiring story of Octavius Catto to the Gesu School, where the pre-K through fourth graders heard from Catto himself, in the form of a re-enactor.

"We studied him in class when we read his flip book," said C'nya Barber, third grader.

In the year of Catto's 175th birthday, they learned that he co-founded the first black baseball club.

The Rock School for Dance Education performed a ballet to illustrate the importance of that achievement.

It was shocking to the students to learn that Catto had to be taught secretly.

"All the doors had to be boarded up and stuff and the windows had to be closed because there was a law that black people couldn't learn," said Kyle Howerton, fourth grader.

As part of the Freedom Festival, three more schools will attend performances giving young students an opportunity to experience the performing arts, often for the first time.

"Well that is true for some of the kids and we've also had a long relationship with the Mann Center as well. Some of the kids have been introduced to the arts through the Rock School of Dance, said Bryan Carter, Gesu School president.

Through the Mann's 'Arts in Schools' program they have also learned about other important African Americans like Harriett Tubman.

"I like what she did because she went back and risked her life again and again to help the slaves," said Faith Leake, third grader.

The first public Freedom Festival event will take place next Saturday - a spiritual revival at the Mother Bethel AME Church.

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