Mary Ann Shadd Cary was a writer, educator, and lawyer who shook up the abolitionist movement by calling for action over rhetoric, writes Megan Specia for The New York Times.
Shadd Cary was the eldest of 13 children. Her parents moved in the early 19th century from Wilmington to West Chester, where she finished Quaker boarding school and became a teacher.
Shadd Cary became the first black woman in North America to edit and publish a newspaper. She wrote a long letter to Frederick Douglass, who had asked readers of his North Star newspaper for suggestions on improving the lives of black people in America.
“We should do more and talk less,” wrote Shadd Cary.
The letter critiqued the male-dominated abolitionist movement and its tendency to engage in long-winded discourse, and it became her first published work.
She later moved to Canada after Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, where she founded The Provincial Freeman newspaper and advertised Canada as a safe haven for former slaves.
When the Civil War started, she returned to America and recruited people to join the fight as part of the Union Army.
After the war, she graduated from Howard University with a law degree and joined the suffragette movement. She died in 1893.
Read more about Mary Ann Shadd Cary in The New York Times here.