Mary Ann Shadd

Unearth Uncover #BlackedOutHistory: Mary Ann Shadd

An activist, journalist, teacher, and lawyer, Mary Ann Shadd was a leader of the anti-slavery movement and fought for the rights of women and people of colour. Born in 1823 in Delaware, where slavery still existed, to free parents, she immigrated to Canada in 1851, where she created one of the first racially-integrated schools for Black refugees in Canada.

Shad was the first woman newspaper publisher in Canada. In 1853, she founded and published the newspaper titled “The Provincial Freeman.” The paper was committed to advocating for the anti-slavery movement and women’s rights, something nearly unheard of in that time. She vowed to give a voice to those who were silenced, and brought to light issues that were not receiving enough coverage, such as the stories of Black people escaping enslavement on the Underground Railroad. Later, she moved back to the United States (U.S.) where her other achievements included being one the first Black women to complete a law degree.

Due to her astonishing achievements and community leadership, in 1994 she was designated as a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada. Mary Ann Shadd paved the way for future activists and her legacy continues to inspire lives everywhere today.

“Since much of the Black past has been deliberately buried, covered over, and demolished, it is our task to unearth, uncover, and piece it together again.” – Dr. Afua Cooper