Windsor·Video

Sculpture of Mary Ann Shadd, North America's first Black female publisher, unveiled in Windsor, Ont.

A new statue commemorating North America's first Black female newspaper publisher was unveiled in downtown Windsor, Ont. this week. 

Shadd was an activist, journalist and lawyer who worked to free enslaved people

A new statue of Mary Ann Shadd, an American-Canadian abolitionist, journalist and lawyer, who was the first Black woman publisher in North America, was unveiled in Windsor, Ont. this week. Pictured are descendants of Shadd who attended the unveiling. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A new statue commemorating North America's first Black female newspaper publisher was unveiled in downtown Windsor, Ont. this week. 

The bronze statue depicts Mary Ann Shadd holding a copy of her newspaper, The Provincial Freeman.

Shadd was an activist, journalist and lawyer, who moved to Windsor and played a critical role in giving Black people a voice and advocating for women's rights. 

WATCH | See the new statue of Mary Ann Shadd: 

Mary Ann Shadd statue

15 days ago
Duration 1:28
Relatives of Mary Ann Shadd were on hand Wednesday to see the unveiling of a statue depicting Mary Ann Shadd, a famous Abolitionist and the first Black female publisher in North America.

Descendents of Shadd came from Chatham-Kent, Ont. and Southfield Michigan for the unveiling. 

"I think we're all extremely proud and excited about seeing the statue, it's such a beautiful statue... we had a really great time," said Vernon Shadd. 

"It's great I mean we get recognition of somebody in our family, somebody in Canadian history that contributed so much to help fugitive slaves and everyone else, so it's great that she's getting that kind of recognition, we need that."

Born in 1823, Shadd and her family worked to free enslaved people as part of the Underground Railroad. In 1851, the family moved to Ontario and prepared to welcome Black refugees. On the grounds of what is now Windsor City Hall Square, Shadd opened a school for Black and white students. She wrote and lectured on the importance of freedom while living in Canada and published Canada's first antislavery newspaper, The Provincial Freeman.

Mary Ann Shadd was an American-Canadian abolitionist, journalist and lawyer, who was the first Black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. (National Archives of Canada)

"It's great for the family and it's also great for the kids that are coming behind us," said Karen Shadd, another relative. 

"They need to know this history and this is a great way of them recognizing her contribution is. It's just a wonderful moment we really appreciate it."

The statue was created by sculptor Donna Jean Mayne, who said she first learned of Shadd 20 years ago when she was painting murals for the city. 

"When I learned her story, I thought who can't help but be more inspired by her and I always felt she deserved more recognition," said Mayne.

"She's depicted stepping forward and her skirts are pulled back showing like the wind as a force of discrimination that had no effect on her, she just kept advancing. And she was courageous and brilliant ... I hope I depicted that."

Shadd's statue stands on the grounds of Windsor Hall, part of the University of Windsor's downtown campus, at the corner of Chatham and Ferry streets.

LISTEN | Hear more aboutt he statue and its significance
Marium Tolson-Murtty speaks with CBC Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa about a statue of Mary Ann Shadd.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Being Back in Canada highlights stories about Black Canadians. (CBC)

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