February’s celebration of Black History Month in the United States traces its roots back to the 1920s, although it gained more formal recognition in the ’70s. All during February, we’ll be sharing stories of holy and often unknown black Catholics.
Daniel Rudd was a black Catholic layman who sought to bring about racial equality in Catholic parishes throughout post-Civil War America.
Born into a Catholic family — his father was a former slave — Rudd founded a weekly newspaper in 1886 for black Catholics in America as a means to harmonize racial divisions in the Church. His aims were to make the Catholic Church known to a wider audience of African-Americans, but also to break through the racism of his day. With his pioneering work, Rudd challenged the conscience of a nation and his Church. Eventually his work achieved the establishment of the first National Black Congress in 1889 — at which Father Augustus Tolton was the main speaker.