#HistoryCrushHumpDay: Mary Ann Shadd Cary

I am apparently also all about them hashtags. (I am not about hashtags, I swear.)

mary_ann_shaddIn my family, we eschew the term “spirit animal”, because its current usage is appropriationist garbage (see: Your Spirit Animal Is Here To Take You On Your Vision Quest at The Toast #RIPtheToast). We prefer patronuses. (Patronii?)(We are a very cool family.) And my patronus is Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

If I believed in reincarnation, I, and any other opinionated female of color, would believe that I was her in a past life. Decried at times as shrill in her writings (even by Frederick Douglass yooooo I thought we were cool), she was actually just an educated vagina-haver (of color!) in a time when people owned other people, with opinions she had the audacity to share in numerous writings, including her own freaking newspaper (the first owned by a woman in all of North America, and the first anti-slavery newspaper in Canada). She traveled all over Canada and the U.S. arguing for integrated schools during the Civil War. Also, she recruited for the Union Army, went to various conventions thrown together by abolitionist societies and schooled their punk asses on all kinds of shit, and oh hey by the way, was the second woman to get her law degree in the U.S. At 60 years old. BEAST. MODE.

I’m not necessarily here for her participation in the national temperance movement, but to quote from Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century:

For Mary Ann, like many of the black elite, the eradication of alcohol was a crucial element in the veneer of respectability they presented to white America. Black American activists – particularly those with an evangelical background – had viewed drinking as an obstacle to racial uplift since the days of the antebellum black conventions. Temperance had been deeply embedded in Mary Ann’s political roots from the time of her father Abraham Shadd’s involvement in the American Moral Reform Society in the 1830s.

She also fought for women’s rights, because of course she did; see above, re: BEAST. MODE. Oh man the best part: she married some dude, but never lived with him, and continued doing her thing the entire time they were married. Living the damn dream, this woman. (Other than the part where she’s a Black female, in the U.S., in the late 1800s, trying to get anything done.) She died in D.C., for all the time she lived in Canada. You can see her house on U Street, if you live in the DMV, because it’s been deemed a national landmark. You can listen to Stuff You Missed In History Class’ podcast about her here, and there’s also the book mentioned and linked above.


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