January 7, 2018

This week’s reflection… Catholic Man of the Month Daniel A. Rudd (1854-1933)

The 11th of 12 children, Daniel Arthur Rudd was born into slavery August 7, 1854, in Bardstown, Ky. His parents, Robert and Eliza, were both Catholic and served as sextons at their local parish. Rudd grew up with a deep love for the Church and later wrote fondly of receiving first Communion and Confirmation with both black and white children.

Following the Civil War, Rudd pursued secondary education in Springfield, Ohio. He worked for a newspaper in 1880 before a failed attempt at his own weekly paper. After moving to Cincinnati in 1886, he launched the American Catholic Tribune. Owned and operated by black Catholics, its circulation reached roughly 10,000.

As editor, Rudd wrote against racial violence and discrimination, while also advocating for integration, equal education and voting rights. He used his paper both to challenge the Church to live up to its teaching of human equality and to evangelize non-Catholic African Americans. The Church, he wrote, was “the only place on the continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand in hand to the altar.”

In 1889, Rudd founded the Colored Catholic Congress (now the National Black Catholic Congress) and co-founded the interracial Congress of Lay Catholics. He was a member of the Catholic Press Association, and the Afro-American Press League, an association of 200 publications, asked Rudd to serve as its president in 1893. After his paper closed in 1897, he managed a lumber mill.

Rudd was a friend of Father Augustus Tolton, known as the first black priest in the United States, and also worked for Scott Bond, the first black millionaire, in Arkansas, coauthoring Bond’s 1917 biography. Daniel Rudd died in his hometown on December 3, 1933, at the age of 79.