• Michelle Smith

Amazing Melanated Mommies: 19

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

While African American history is too extraordinary to be summed up in a year, let alone a month, we will be celebrating phenomenal women who changed the world as we see it now all while raising children. If they can do it, so can we. Lets do it!!!

Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. Cary was born in Wilmington, Delaware, to parents Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Burton Parnell, who were free African-Americans and conductors on the Underground Railroad. Growing up, her family's home frequently served as a refuge for fugitive slaves. However when it became illegal to educate African-American children in the state of Delaware, the Shadd family moved to Pennsylvania, where Mary attended a Quaker Boarding School. After being away at school, Mary Ann returned to West Chester and established a school for black children. She also later taught in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and New York City. When the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 in the United States threatened to return free northern blacks and escaped slaves into bondage, Shadd and her brother Isaac moved to Canada and settled in Windsor, Ontario, across the border from Detroit. It was there that she founded a racially integrated school and ran an anti-slavery newspaper called The Provincial Freeman, which made her the first female editor and publisher to own a newspaper that was distributed in North America. Her newspaper operated from 1853 until 1860 providing strong editorial commentary, culture and information about things going on in other places. These were the first newspapers to address African Americans instead of whites and for the first time showed African Americans as intellectually sound and capable of appreciating culture and education. In 1860, with the passing of her husband Mary Ann moved her two children back to the United states where she taught in public schools and attended Howard University School of Law. She graduated as a lawyer at the age of 60, becoming only the second black woman in the United States to earn a law degree. Cary also became the first African-American woman to vote in a national election. Salute Ms. Mary Ann Shadd Cary!

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