Ex slave Daniel Rudd historic figure in Springfield
As Black History month comes to a close, a new book about a 19th century African-American Daniel Rudd - a former slave who lived in Springfield, Ohio and helped change the face of the Catholic church.
"A Cry for Justice," follows the life of Daniel Rudd a young slave from Bardstown, Kentucky. He was freed after the Civil War and traveled to Springfield to work at a newspaper. His beliefs also led him to challenge the Catholic Church to deliver equality and justice for black people.
"He founded the Black Catholic Congress Movement which is still in existence today and meets in Indianapolis this year," the book's author Gary Agee said.
In Springfield, Rudd worked for a newspaper - the Springfield Review. He wrote stories protesting the city's segregation polices. Rudd eventually owned his own newspaper called the Ohio State Tribune and challenged black people to actively become productive in society.
"Rudd believed in black agency. In other words, he believed that blacks should help themselves. They should work on the quote 'the colored question' end of quote. He was a man of action. He didn't want to sit around and beg for a job. He believed that African-Americans should get out and start companies and hire blacks and white too. And set a good example that way," Agee said.
In 1890, Archbishop John Ireland became inspired by Rudd's efforts. He called on the church to eliminate its color line and give full equality to blacks. Rudd understood the power of journalism. His stories helped force changes in the church and society.
"Think about it, if you were an African-American interested in justice issues, hey look you gravitated toward journalism and to work in these newspapers and let your voice be heard," Agee said.
In 1888, Rudd made a bold prediction - America would elect a black president before the end of the 20th century.
"His dates weren't quite right but he was always an optimist but he was always looking forward to what American could do if it lived up to its founding documents the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution," Agee said.
Daniel Rudd died in 1933. Author Gary Agee believes Rudd was happy with changes in the Catholic Church but also felt that more progress could be made.