African American History

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Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (October 9, 1823 – June 5, 1893) was an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. She was the first Black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada.

Shadd Cary was an abolitionist who became the first female African-American newspaper editor in North America when she edited The Provincial Freeman in 1853.

Mary Ann Shadd was born in Delaware to parents who were free blacks in what was still a slave state. Education even for free blacks was illegal in Delaware, so her parents sent her to a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania when she was ten through sixteen years old.  Mary Ann Shadd then returned to Delaware and taught other African Americans, until the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. Mary Ann Shadd, with her brother and his wife, emigrated to Canada in 1851, publishing “A Plea for Emigration or Notes of Canada West” urging other black Americans to flee for their safety in light of the new legal situation which denied that anyone black had rights as a U.S. citizen.