Black History: Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Featured, History & Politics

Miss Mary Ann Shadd CaryMary Ann Shadd Cary (October 9, 1823 – June 5, 1893) was the  first Black woman to vote in a National Election.

She was born to Abraham and Harriett Shadd, both free-born blacks, in Wilmington, Delaware. She was the oldest in her family of 13 children. Her father, a shoemaker, was a key figure in the Underground Railroad.

Mary also lived in Washington D.C. and served as a recruiting officer for the Union Army, promoting Black nationalism. In 1853, she established The Provencial Freeman newspaper, a publication that promoted Black self-help, moral reform, temperance, and civil rights. She was the first Black woman known to edit a newspaper in North America. In Washington, Mary established a school for Black children and attended Howard University Law School; she became the first Black female lawyer in the United States when she graduated in 1870. Cary was also the first woman to speak at a national Negro convention.

“Self reliance is the true road to independence” – Mary Ann Shadd Cary

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