Cato Plaque Dedication

Saturday September 7, 2019, RCCP, after more than a year-long process, held a plaque dedication ceremony for a slave named Cato, a bookbinder who worked for William Boylan at his printing press. Boylan published a newspaper, The Raleigh Minerva, where Cato’s obituary was published in 1811- a remarkable and most unusual tribute to an enslaved person. Cato’s obit was discovered by our board member Betsy Shaw while doing research at a local history library years ago. Raleigh is unique among other North Carolina cities and towns for designating an area for the burial of its black citizens back in 1798, when public City Cemetery was established. Racial inclusivity is part of the cemetery’s “social history” – one criteria of several that places the burial ground on the National Register of Historic Places. With only 60 existing markers for the 1,000 burials, no grave in that section post dates 1871. It is fairly certain that most were slaves. Cato’s story is the only one we know of all the individuals buried in that section. One of a thousand. —Jane Thurman

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