From the earliest times, African-Canadians were aware that they needed a voice to help reconnect family members who had entered Canada at different places on the Underground Railroad; to outline the positive aspects of life in Canada to counter arguments that Blacks were starving here; to project a positive image of survivors of the Underground Railroad who were managing well; and to discuss the impact of current issues on the Black community and the continuation of slavery. In order to fight pro-slavery attitudes on both sides of the border, the Black press fought for equality.
Free-born Mary Ann Shadd, the first African-American woman publisher in North America, used her paper, The Provincial Freeman as a soldier would use a sword to fight racism, deftly cutting to the point.
Henry Bibb was born a slave, and ultimately made himself free in Windsor. He was a strong champion for freedom. Bibb’s Voice of the Fugitive was printed in 1851, and he helped form the Refugee Home Society, a land “development” organization. Both Shadd and Bibb were advocates for freedom and participated in the First Convention of Coloured Freemen held in Toronto.
Other Black papers existed in London, in Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Currently many Black papers serve the needs of the Black/African/Caribbean community such as Share, Pride, Caribbean Camera, and Canada Extra in just the Toronto area; other Black communities have their own journals. There are also a number of African-Canadian journalists connected to major national newspapers who provide an African-Canadian point of view or focus in some of their work.
Brief articles about equality and racial injustice from the Voice of the Fugitive and Provincial Freeman.