Cato Freedom Project: Revolutionary War through WWII

The Cato Freedom Project for Common Ground Initiatives is named for an African American Revolutionary War patriot who was interred in 1830 at a cemetery in upstate New York.

His remains and those of his family were discovered by Harry Bradshaw Matthews in 2009, resting within a predominantly white burial ground.

The recovery of Cato Freedom’s legacy has significance beyond the freedom that he gained as a consequence of enlisting in the Third Connecticut Regiment, as well as serving in the 5th Company of the Seventh Regiment until September 1783. His story is one link in the Freedom Journey that intersected with the stories of other ethnic and racial families.

Download pdf document about the “Cato Freedom Project: Three African American Revolutionary War Patriots in Central New York”. 

Cato Freedom’s legacy also is a part of the chronology from slavery to freedom that gives hope to the idea of America’s pluralistic society, in which multiple groups share a common space, interacting without either losing its identity.

February 2010 marked the 180th anniversary of Cato’s death, with his birth extending back to his native Africa in 1734. Fortunately, his tombstone, that of his wife, Parmelia, and the tombstone of their daughter, Charlotte, remain intact. These memorials help to support and facilitate interracial understanding through the sharing of intersecting reference points in American history and interdependence. The Cato Freedom Project consists of presentations by Matthews through honorarium agreements that explore the development of the African American Infrastructure commencing with the Revolutionary War period through the Civil War.

The Cato Freedom Project is appropriate for a variety of groups such as students, teachers, family researchers, and preservationists, as well as Civil War and Abolitionist re-enactors. Venues include:

Gallery Talks—PowerPoint presentations regarding family research extending back to ancestors of the Revolutionary War and the slavery era, the Anti-Slavery Movement and the Underground Railroad, the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War, and the forebears of the African American cultural identity.

Exhibits—display of select items from the privately owned Matthews Collection for the Preservation of Freedom Journey Classics that consist of more than 2,500 books, paintings, coins, newspapers, lithographs, pictures, and research documents.

Student Leadership Workshop—an on-site learning experience engaging participants in self-discovery that reveals the impact of heritage upon one’s leadership style.

Teacher Continuing Education Seminar for the Underground Railroad—provides teachers with an approach to teaching about the Freedom Journey that includes the role of African Americans in the liberating effort to end slavery in the United States.

Seminar for Researching and Collecting African American Memorabilia—exposes the “secrets” to the acquisition of rare publications by and about African Americans and how to assess their respective value. The primary focus is upon collecting books and positive images of African Americans during the 1800s and early 1900s.

The Matthews Collection for the Preservation of African American Freedom Journey Classics is a privately owned collection that supports the work of the United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research. The Collection connects rare books with a historical timeline. Download pdf document about The Matthews Collection for the Preservation of African American Freedom Journey Classics.


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