AWE (A Woman’s Experience)


Josie Smith


Mary Ann Shadd Cary, women in journalism, black women in journalism, Canadian journalism


Susa Young Gates Award Essay

Honorable Mention

On June 30, 1855, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, a free black woman from a prominent black family and editor of The Provincial Freeman (a black abolitionist newspaper printed in Chatham, Ontario, Canada) wrote the following to identify her own achievements in journalism: “To colored women, we have a word—we have broken the Editorial ice, whether willingly or not, for your class in America, so go to Editing as many of you as are willing and able.” Shadd Cary did indeed break the “Editorial ice” as the first black female newspaper editor in both Canada and the United States. Despite her significant contributions to the history of the Canadian press, it would be another woman—almost 50 years later—who would be heralded as Canada’s first female editor. This distinction would be claimed by Kathleen (Kit) Coleman, an Irish immigrant who came to Toronto, Canada at the end of the nineteenth century. Writing for The Mail and Empire’s “Women’s Kingdom” column from 1889 to 1898, Coleman was recognized as one of the most popular female journalists of her time. Mary Ann Shadd Cary would claim her rightful place in Canadian public memory alongside Kit Coleman—but not until 1970.