Black History Month – Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary

Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary

Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, first female Journalist, publisher, teacher and lawyer.
As February is Black History Month the EDI Committee would like to spotlight Mary Ann Shadd.
When the first edition of The Provincial Freeman was printed in Sandwich, Canada West [Ontario] on 24 March 1853, Mary Ann Shadd became the first Black woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper and one of the first female journalists in Canada. Aware that readers may disapprove of a female editor, the newspaper’s first edition named Samuel Ringgold Ward as editor and Alexander McArthur as corresponding editor. The Provincial Freeman, however, was Shadd’s initiative. Under her direction the newspaper was committed to anti-slavery and advocated for African Americans to emigrate to Canada West. The newspaper also highlighted the successes of Black persons living in Canada and included news of formerly enslaved Africans Americans arriving there. Published until 1860, The Provincial Freeman’s motto was “Self-reliance is the true road to independence.”
Mary Ann Shadd Cary died on 5 June 1893. After a lifetime of achievements and firsts, perhaps her greatest contribution was the role she carved out for herself as a Black woman in the public sphere, whether as a teacher and community activist, writer, newspaper editor, public speaker, recruiting agent for the Union Army or lawyer. By pushing the boundaries and limitations normally ascribed to her race and sex, she blazed a trail not only for Black people but for generations of women.

Thank you, the Mind Forward EDI Committee

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