Mary Ann Shadd Cary
Born: October 9, 1823
Died: June 5, 1893
Place of Birth: Wilmington, Delaware
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was a free African American woman at a time when slave trade was still permitted in many American states.
She was the oldest of 13 children and her father was a shoemaker who helped African Americans gain access to the Underground Railway, an escape method to Canada.
As she lived in a slave state, Cary was sent to a Quakers school in Pennsylvania to be educated.
Cary became a teacher and also worked to help less fortunate African Americans improve their lives.
In 1850, because a bill known as The Fugitive Slave Law was passed, Cary and her brother moved to Windsor, Ontario.
She found, even in Canada, people of African descent weren't fully accepted into society and segregation still existed between the races.
Cary decided to open a school where all races could attend but she received unfavorable comments from both black and white groups.
In 1854, to counter critics of her integrated race philosophy, she became the first African American newspaper editor in North America.
She was a strong leader of the abolitionist movement who firmly believed that people of both races should have equal opportunity in being educated.
Through her newspaper, she wrote of the opportunities in Canada and encouraged African Americans to move to Canada.
In addition to writing, Cary lectured throughout many states on the need for African Americans and women in general to be given equal opportunities.
During the US Civil War, she acted as a recruiting officer encouraging members of the black community to join the northern Army.
After the Civil War, Cary enrolled at Howard University, Washington, and became the second African-American woman to earn a law degree.
Through expressing her strong beliefs, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, helped Canada become the cultural mosaic it is today.
For detailed research and more information, check out the following:
Black History Pages
SNN Student Magazine
Library and Archives Canada
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Last Updated: January 4, 2017
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