Senator Jason Lewis recently nominated Philmore Phillip, an advocate for racial equity and founder of CATO, as a 2022 Black Excellence on the Hill honoree. Black Excellence on the Hill is an annual event hosted by the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus to recognize and celebrate Black community leaders and trailblazers across Massachusetts.
A 2009 graduate of Reading Memorial High School and former METCO student, Mr. Phillip founded The Coalition of Us (CATO), an organization dedicated to creating social awareness, opportunities, and support for people of color by nurturing collaboration and engaging diverse people in planning and participating in events, programs and educational curriculum.
Last year, Senator Lewis joined Reading town and school leaders on a historical tour of Reading, organized by CATO, that shed light on the enslaved black people who once lived in the town, including Cato Eaton who only gained his freedom after fighting for three years in the Revolutionary War.
When asked about the importance of his work, Philmore said “My work represents that change is possible, no matter how large or small; that even a little black boy such as myself can come back 20 years later to be the change he wishes to see in his lifetime as long as one stays determined to see the change through.”
“I’m proud to have nominated Philmore as a Black Excellence on the Hill honoree, and grateful that his important work to advance racial equity in Reading and beyond is being recognized,” said Senator Lewis.
Mr. Phillip has also worked closely with two Reading teachers, Kara Gleason and Megan Howie, who have done extensive research into the history of enslaved people in Reading, to broaden the school curriculum to include this untold history. He was also a featured speaker at Reading’s first Juneteenth celebration.