Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an abolitionist who became the first Female African American newspaper editor in North America. She started and edited the "Provincial Freeman." In 1840, Shadd returned to West Chester and established a school for black children. She also later taught in Norristown, Pennsylvania and New York City.
Social activismWhen 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. In Windsor, she founded a racially integrated school with the support of the American Missionary Association.
Civil War and postbellum acAfter her husband died in 1860, Shadd Cary and her children returned to the United States. During the Civil War, at the behest of the abolitionist Martin Delany, she served as a recruiting officer to enlist black volunteers for the Union Army in the state of Indiana. After the Civil War, she taught in black schools in Wilmington, before moving to Washington, D.C., where she taught in public schools and attended Howard University School of Law. She graduated as a lawyer at the age of 60 in 1883, becoming only the second black woman in the United States to earn a law degree. She wrote for the newspapers National Era and The People's Advocate.
Shadd Cary joined the National Woman Suffrage Association, working alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for women's suffrage, testifying before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and becoming the first black woman to cast a vote in a national election.
She died in Washington, D.C., on June 5, 1893. She was interred at Columbian Harmony Cemetery. Her former residence in the U Street Corridor was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In 1987 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women's History Project. She was also honoured by Canada, being designated a Person of National Historic Significance.