Mary Ann Shadd was a guiding light in the fight for freedom for people of African descent living in North America. Her impact changed many lives and her legacy endures 150 years later. This portrait imagines her in a contemporary light adorned in regality and symbolism representative of her bravery and visionary insight in the fight for equality and justice.

Mary Ann was the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. Her newspaper fought for the abolition of slavery and the rights of women and helped people escaping enslavement adjust to life in Ontario. In Mary Ann’s words, she had “broken the editorial ice.” She hoped her example would inspire more Black women to write and publish.

Adeyemi Adegbesan is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist whose practice aims to examine the intersectionality of Black identity. Reflecting on Black culture across regions, religions, varying levels of income and political lines, Adegbesan examines the dichotomy of the richness of Black experiences with the imposed societal homogeneity of ‘Blackness.’ Through his work Adegbesan pulls from these varying elements to create Afro-futuristic portraits that embody the history and future of Black culture.

Awakenings Reflections

Artist Yung Yemi reflects on the impact of erasure, the layered symbolism and the process of making this portrait; one of his most challenging and thought provoking yet.

Watch it on YouTube

Technology Sponsor

Panasonic logo

Community Partner

Black Raptors Basketball on White Background

Media Partner