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Mary Ann Shadd: The First Black Woman To Run A Newspaper In North America


Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893) grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Her father was a conductor in the Underground Railroad so she was exposed very early to abolitionist sentiment and resistance.


Shadd began her career as a teacher, but found her calling as a journalist.


In 1853, Shadd became the first black woman to run a North American newspaper when she launched the Provincial Freeman.



Shadd used the newspaper to discuss how blacks would be free. She vehemently opposed segregation and turned her scathing critiques on exclusively black settlements and their proprietors.


Eventually, public backlash against Shadd’s hotheaded-writing style and the fact that she was a woman forced her to allow her brother to supplant her as the publisher of the Provincial Freeman.


During the Civil War, Shadd joined ranks with those such as Frederick Douglass and Jermain Loguen, enticing blacks to actively support the Union’s cause.


Shadd lived to become the first woman to attend law school at Howard University.


Written by PH

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