First Black woman editor, publisher on Black History Month stamp

Canada Post’s 2024 Black History Month stamp is honouring Mary Ann Shadd, the first Black woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper.

A release from Canada Post states, “An abolitionist, educator, newspaper publisher, and lawyer, Shadd broke boundaries throughout her life as she fought for the rights of Black people and women. ”

Another unique twist to this year’s Black History Month stamp is there.

“Shadd’s lifelong fight for equal rights continued a family legacy. Her father, Abraham Doras Shadd, was active in the Underground Railroad and was featured on Canada Post’s first Black History Month stamp issue in 2009,” Canada Post explains. “It is believed that this is the first time in Canadian postal history (outside of the Royal Family) that a father and daughter have each appeared on a stamp.”

Born in 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware, Shadd established herself early on as a dedicated teacher, writer and activist. According to Canada Post, in 1851, she was invited to teach in Windsor, Ont., where she helped open a racially integrated school that supported families fleeing enslavement in the United States.

Two years later, she launched The Provincial Freeman and became the first Black woman in North America – and the first woman in Canada – to publish and edit a newspaper. Published from Windsor, then from Toronto and Chatham, it was an anti-slavery newspaper that advocated for the advancement and equality of Black people. It also promoted Canada as a place for Black people to settle, raise families, and contribute as free citizens.

Shadd initially kept her name off the masthead to avoid alienating readers accustomed to male editors. However, she grew tired of the assumption that she was a man and, in 1854, revealed her identity.

In 1863, she moved back to the United States, where she continued to build her reputation as a trailblazer. Shadd became a lawyer and a prominent suffragist, the second Black American woman to obtain a law degree.

Canada Post says the stamp was designed by Underline Studio and illustrated by Natasha Cunningham. The central image is the only known photograph of Shadd. The lower image reproduces The Provincial Freeman‘s masthead, recreated to include both of Canada’s official languages. The metallic-inked black-eyed Susans represent resilience, encouragement, justice, and motivation. Colour Innovations printed the issue, including a booklet of six Permanen domestic rate stamps and an Official First Day Cover. The cancel site is Chatham, Ont., where Mary Ann Shadd spent most of her years residing in Canada.

Descendants of Mary Ann Shadd at the unveiling in Chatham, Ont., on Jan. 23, 2024.

Adrienne Shadd, Marishana Mabusela, Brenda Edmonds Travis and Canada Post Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Brandy Ryan at the unveiling.

Booklet front cover.

Back cover.

Inside booklet.

Official First-Day Cover.

Back cover of OFDC.








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