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Mary Ann


To colored women, we have a word -

"we have broken the Editorial ice", whether willingly or not, for your class in America;

so go to Editing, as many of you

as are willing, and able, and as
soon as you may,

if you think you are ready…


Thus was the rallying cry of Mary Ann Shadd in the June 30, 1855 issue of her newspaper, the Provincial Freeman. Being at the helm of a weekly paper had been a difficult introduction to the
newspaper business. She had suffered insults and criticisms as the outspoken editress but, undaunted, she intended to keep it going by any means necessary. She unflinchingly called on more Black women to take their seat in the editor’s chair of the nation’s newspapers and periodicals. And by so doing herself, she had forever made her mark on history as the first Black woman to publish and edit a newspaper in North America.


Mary Ann Shadd was the first of thirteen children born into a prominent abolitionist family in Delaware on October 9, 1823. Their story was the stuff of romance and legend. Mary Ann descended from Hans Schad, a German mercenary who fought for the British in General Braddock’s army, and a free woman of colour named Elizabeth Jackson, who nursed a wounded Schad back to health and married him a year later, Click here for print-friendly full article

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Adrienne Shadd is a consultant, curator, and author living in Toronto. Adescendant of Abraham Doras Shadd, a prominent abolitionist in the 19 th century, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first Black woman to publish and edit a newspaper in North America, Adrienne is herself a noted historian, specializing in the heritage of African Canadians. She has conducted research for plaques, films, and exhibits, including the CBC’s acclaimed Freedom’s Land, and the interpretive exhibit at the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site in Dresden. She is the author, co-author and editor of several books and articles, including the first book on Toronto Black history, The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto! with Afua Cooper and Karolyn Smardz Frost and The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton. She has also collaborated on two award-winning
children’s publications, Freedom, and Early Civilizations of Africa, part of the Sankofa Series, with Rubicon Publishing. She is currently working on a book on Toronto settler and fugitive slave Deborah Brown.

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