Important info and instructions for contest submissions:


Who was Mary Ann Shadd Cary?

Mary Ann Shadd Cary was born on October 9, 1823 in Delaware to a family of free Black activists and entrepreneurs. Her father, Abraham Shadd, was a founder of the Colored Conventions movement, and he taught her to continue the work of abolishing slavery and securing equal rights for African Americans. Celebrated as the first Black woman newspaper editor in North America, she founded the Provincial Freeman newspaper in 1853. She used her newspaper, public lectures, and convention gatherings across both the US and Canada, to advocate and fundraise for African American resettlements in Canada West. She encouraged Black communities to go where governments would treat them as full citizens, and they could exercise self-reliance and develop wealth. She challenged African American leaders like Frederick Douglass to support this strategy and demand the US government secure Black civil rights, or face organized resistance by Black communities just across the border.

When the Civil War began, Shadd Cary returned to the US to serve as a recruiter for the Union Army. After the war, she moved to Washington DC where she would become one of the first Black women to attend law school. After graduating from Howard University, she continued to be a leading in Black labor rights organizing, women’s voting rights, and Black women’s economic empowerment, until her death June 5, 1893. Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an outspoken visionary who was undeterred by threats and barriers to her missions, and we know this because of decades of work to find her published and private writings. Despite being a renowned activist, we only have one photograph of her to remember her by.


What do I need to do BEFORE I start creating my art submission?

  1. Learn about Mary Ann Shadd Cary by reading our digital exhibit: Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s Herstory in the Colored Conventions. (We encourage you also use the additional resources we provide below.)
  2. Read through all parts of the submission form below.


Where can I learn more about Mary Ann Shadd Cary?