The Archdiocese of Louisville is set to honor Daniel Rudd, a prominent late 19th-century Black journalist and civil rights leader.
Rudd was born into slavery on the Anatok Plantation in Bardstown, Ky. He and his 11 siblings were baptized at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, where his family were active parishioners.
St. Joseph parish, the archives of the archdiocese and the Office of Multicultural Ministry together will present the dedication of a new memorial marker celebrating the life of Rudd and his contributions to the Catholic Church in America on Nov. 1.
The archives and the Office of Multicultural Ministry are two of the dozens of ministries and agencies to receive funding from the Catholic Services Appeal. The CSA, which kicked off earlier this month, has already raised $1,052,915 which is 27 percent of its $3.9 million goal.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and Father Terry Bradshaw, pastor of St. Joseph, will celebrate Mass at St. Joseph at 11 a.m. The dedication will immediately follow at St. Joseph Cemetery, located at the corner of N. 3rd Street and E. John Rowan Blvd.
In a Sept. 10 column in The Record, Archbishop Kurtz called Rudd “a hero for our times.”
“You and I will agree that we are desperately in need of heroes in our culture, and so I raise up the life, work, and spirit of Daniel A. Rudd, born a slave, who lived consistently as a committed Catholic adult, seeking ways to work for justice,” he wrote.
Tim Tomes, archivist for the archdiocese, said the preparation for the memorial marker commemorating the life of Rudd has been in the works for some time. Dr. Brian B. Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer of the archdiocese; Archbishop Kurtz; and Father Bradshaw have guided the project since the summer of 2019. Tomes worked to condense the storied life and career of Rudd into a double-sided panel measuring 24 inches wide and 36 inches tall.
Rudd was born into slavery on the Anatok Plantation in 1854 near St. Joseph. He was the 11th of 12 children born to Robert and Elizabeth Rudd. In the process of researching Rudd, Tomes said it was discovered that his parent’s graves did not have a proper marker. The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Catholic Cemeteries donated two markers for the parents of Rudd. Those will also be unveiled on Nov. 1.
In 1881, Rudd moved to Ohio where he began his career in journalism. He established the first Black owned and operated newspaper, the American Catholic Tribune, in Cincinnati, in 1886. Rudd believed that it was through the Catholic Church that African Americans could gain equality, Tomes said.
“He knew that the one thing that could help everyone was faith in God and faith in the church. In the Catholic Church, he truly believed everyone was equal,” Tomes said.
For Rudd, his faith remained a guiding force in his life, Tomes said. In 1889 he convened the Colored Catholic Congress in Washington, D.C., which would later become the Black Catholic Congress, which presently meets every five years.
He went on to be a successful businessman in Mississippi and Arkansas and for a time served as an educator. He suffered a stroke in 1932 and moved back to his hometown, where he died in 1933.
M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Ministry, called Rudd the “father” of the Black Catholic movement.
He called “the church then and now to change and make room for African ancestry. He laid a foundation for the church to build upon the ministers with Black Catholics for the next century,” Mandley-Turner said.
Rudd will also be the subject of the 33rd Annual African American Catholic History Celebration on Nov. 7 at noon at St. Martin de Porres Church, 3112 West Broadway.
The day’s theme is “Daniel Rudd: A Man for Justice” and will be hosted by the Office of Multicultural Ministry. Archbishop Kurtz will lead the prayer service.
To learn more about the CSA and the ministries it funds, visit archlou.org/CSA.