Stamping a new legacy!
A Wilmington, Delaware Post Office has been renamed in honor of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first Black woman publisher in North America, CBS Philly reports.
According to the National Park Service, Mary Ann Shadd was born in 1823, the daughter of free African Americans dedicated to abolitionism. The Shadd family would eventually move north to Pennsylvania, a free state, where they assisted in the Underground Railroad. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which could force free African Americans back into enslavement, she moved with her family to Ontario, Canada, with a host of other Black Americans fleeing the country.
She met her husband, Thomas J. Cary, taking his last name, and the couple had two children. Cary would open up a school for Black and white children and make history as the first Black woman publisher in North America and the first female publisher in Canada with her antislavery newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. After the death of her husband in 1860 and the Civil War, Cary returned to the U.S. to help recruit soldiers for the Union Army. When the war was over, she moved to Washington, D.C., enrolling in Howard University Law School and becoming the second Black woman to earn a law degree in the U.S.
She continued her work as an activist, teacher, and writer, penning articles for a local Black newspaper entitled The New National Era. She was a founder of the Colored Women’s Progressive Franchise Association and active in the women’s suffrage movement. Cary passed away on June 5, 1893, but her legacy continues to live on.
A dedication ceremony in honor of Cary and the renaming of the Wilmington Post Office in her hometown took place this past week.
Thank you for your service, Mrs. Cary. Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Delaware Public Media