Ohio Historical Marker recognizes 19th century Catholic entrepreneur


SPRINGFIELD — A new Ohio Historical Marker will be dedicated to Daniel Rudd. Rudd was a 19th century Catholic entrepreneur who was born into slavery in Bardstown, Kentucky, before moving to Ohio and becoming a newspaperman, lecturer, publicist and advocate for the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Raphael Parish, Springfield, in collaboration with the Catholic Social Action Office and African-American Pastoral Ministries Office of the pastoral center of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, will dedicate a Ohio Historical Marker to honor the life and work Daniel Rudd. The dedication will be held Sunday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m., at St. Raphael Church, 225 E. Spring St., Springfield. The event is open to the public. As part of the ceremony, the Rev. John MacQuarrie will conclude the ceremony with a remarks and benediction.

Rudd was born into slavery on Aug. 7, 1854, in Bardstown, Kentucky. After the Civil War Rudd moved to Springfield. Having been baptized and raised in Catholicism, he joined St. Raphael Parish, where the teaching of racial equality by the Church solidified his vision of justice.

By 1885 Rudd had established his own weekly newspaper, The Ohio State Tribune. He rebranded it The American Catholic Tribune (ACT) after moving to Cincinnati. Rudd claimed ACT was the only Catholic newspaper owned by an African American. At the height of its popularity in 1892, the publication had a circulation of 10,000. In 1893 Rudd was asked to chair the Afro-American Press Association, representing more than 200 black-owned newspapers.

Rudd explained his vision: “We will do what no other paper published by colored men has dared to do-give the great Catholic Church a hearing and show that it is worth of at least a fair consideration at the hands of our race, being as it is the only place on this continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand in hand to the altar.”

In 1888 Rudd called on Black Catholics to form a national group to advocate for racial issues. With the endorsement of Archbishop William Elder, the Congress of Colored Catholics convened in Washington, D.C. More than 200 delegates gathered, worshiped, and met with political leaders, including President Grover Cleveland. Today this organization lives on as the National Black Catholic Congress. Throughout his life, Rudd fought segregation and inequality in schools, hospitals, and other public accommodations. He died in December 1933.

Andrew Musgrave, director of the Catholic Social Action Office, is thrilled to be able to support bringing this long overdue memorial to fruition.

“For far too long, the life and work of Daniel Rudd have been overlooked. He is a critical figure in Black Catholicism – and Catholicism in Ohio and the United States – and our office is honored to help make this dream a reality, especially as we celebrate 200 years of Catholicism in the Cincinnati area.”