artist's conception of sculpture honouring Mary Ann Shadd CaryPlanning is underway for the unveiling of a campus sculpture honouring trailblazing abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

Sculpture to honour abolitionist activist, journalist, jurist

The planned October unveiling of a sculpture honouring pioneering publisher Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) will be appropriate for several reasons, say members of the committee organizing the event.

The work by artist Donna Mayne (BA 1982) depicts the anti-slavery activist, journalist, teacher, and lawyer — the first woman in Canada and the first Black woman in all of North America to establish a newspaper, which she did right here in Windsor — holding a copy of The Provincial Freeman. The newspaper advocated equality, integration, and self-reliance for Black people in Canada and the United States.

If the unveiling ceremony is able to proceed in October, it will coincide with Women's History Month and Shadd Cary’s Oct. 9 birthday, notes committee member Irene Moore Davis (BA 1993), a historian and educator, president of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society, and a descendant of Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s younger sister Elizabeth Shadd Shreve.

Moore Davis calls the publisher, named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Canadian government in 1994, one of the most fascinating figures ever to have walked the streets of Windsor.

“Mary Ann Shadd Cary is well known to many of us who study, teach, or write about Black history all across North America, but she is not as well known in the broader community of Windsor as she should be,” she says. “It’s certainly my hope that Donna Mayne’s sculpture will help shine a light on this trailblazer, and that its placement at the downtown campus will make it easy for the public to access.”

The sculpture will be located outside Windsor Hall, formerly home to the Windsor Star newspaper. Moore Davis says many members of the family are looking forward to participating in the unveiling, either in person or virtually.

“There are many Shadd descendants living across Southwestern Ontario, Southeastern Michigan, and well beyond,” she says. “There’s a fairly vast network of descendants of Mary Ann’s siblings who keep in touch regularly with one another and with the community of historians who continue to research her.”

Details of a formal ceremony will be released as they are finalized.

Black History: Honouring the past, inspiring the future