On the 175th anniversary of Catto's birth, the towering voices of three church choirs delivered the soul-stirring "
The program ended with the choirs joining the hundreds filling the wooden pews, who linked hands and sang the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome" as late-afternoon sunlight poured through the stained-glass windows of the historic church in Society Hill.
Called "Let Freedom Sing," the event was the first in a series the
Known locally and nationally for his work furthering the rights of African Americans, including the right to vote, Catto was murdered on the doorstep of his home on
"This is really a celebration of freedom through songs that were important in the life of the black community from the period of slavery to the present," said the Rev.
"I'm glad that the celebration is beginning here," Tyler said in an interview. "I think it's an appropriate place when you consider all that has happened at this site."
He said Catto was very familiar with the church and was killed only a few blocks away.
Coming events include panel discussions, poetry readings, and a finale concert at the Mann on
A complete schedule is available at www.manncenter.org/philadelphia-freedom-festival
At Mother Bethel on Saturday, inspirational messages were interspersed among the music as Tyler and pastors from
"Perseverance says we cannot give up," said the Rev.
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