MARY ANN SHADD CARY’S HERSTORY IN THE COLORED CONVENTIONS
BLACK CANADIANS CONVENE
One of the most rewarding results of tracing Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s life through the Convention Movement is our new sense of the richness and importance of Black political organizing in Canada. Too often, we implicitly frame Black activism in the nineteenth century as an exclusively American phenomenon, and this, too, goes for existing work on the Colored Conventions. However, Shadd Cary and many of her peers saw the future of Black nationalist politics and identities as being grown on Canadian soil. Others envisioned Canada as a place from which to orchestrate and execute important political movements and even violent uprisings in America, from a distance. Rinaldo Walcott describes Shadd Cary as “a figure of the in-between,” whose presence between nations, intersecting identities, and movements, reveals the permeability of borders and that made possible her claims to a Black diasporic belonging unencumbered by the racial and spatial anxieties of nationalist narratives. Through Shadd Cary’s engagement with Canadian organizing, we can make the case that the Colored Conventions were, in fact, a diasporic movement and emigration a centrally important mission.
Explore this StoryMap to learn more about Colored Conventions across Canada. Be sure to scroll down each page to read details about each convention and location.
 Walcott, Rinaldo. “Who is She And What is She to You? Mary Ann Shadd Cary and the (Im)possibility of Black/ Canadian Studies.” Atlantis vol. 24, no. 2, 2000, pp. 137-146.
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North American Convention (1851: Toronto, Canada), “Proceedings for the North American Convention held in Toronto, Canada, 1851,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed December 10, 2020, https://omeka.coloredconventions.org/items/show/324.
“British Methodist Episcopal Church.” http://www.windsor-communities.com/african-religion-britishepis.php
General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada (1853: Amherstburgh), “Minutes and proceedings of the General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada, held by adjournments in Amhrstburgh [sic], C.W., June 16th and 17th, 1853.,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed December 10, 2020, https://omeka.coloredconventions.org/items/show/619.
“Amherstburg First Baptist Church National Historic Site.” https://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dfhd/page_nhs_eng.aspx?id=13291
Provincial Freeman. “Address To the Colored People of Canada.” Sept 8, 1855. From Accessible Archives. https://www-accessible-com.udel.idm.oclc.org/accessible/docButton?AAWhat=builtPage&AAWhere=PROVINCIALFREEMAN.18550908_001.image&AABeanName=toc3&AANextPage=/printBrowseBuiltImagePage.jsp (accessed Dec 10, 2020).
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site.” National Trust for Canada. https://nationaltrustcanada.ca/destinations/uncle-toms-cabin-historic-site
The Convention (1858: Chatham, ON), “Minutes from the Harper’s Ferry Convention at Chatham, Canada West, 1858, p. 10,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed December 10, 2020, https://omeka.coloredconventions.org/items/show/427.