Sarah Elizabeth Ray: The Rosa Parks of SS Columbia
Ten years before Rosa Parks was removed from a bus, Sarah Elizabeth Ray was removed from a boat, Steamer Columbia. Sarahs experience (long unrecognized) is now known to have inspired Rosas. In June 1945, Sarah was aboard Columbia, the sole African American on a celebratory graduation cruise with her classmates. Sarah was taken off the vessel before the vessel left the Detroit River dock. Michigan law prohibited segregation and discrimination on public conveyances. With the help of the NAACP (and Thurgood Marshall), Sarah filed a law suit which would ultimately end illegal segregation in Michigan. The suit was appealed at every level by the vessel operator, the Bob-lo Excursion Co. before making its way to SCOTUS. On Feb 2, 1948, the People of Michigan (and Sarah) prevailed thus putting an end to discrimination and segregation on the Bob-lo boats. Columbia, built in 1902 and today docked in Buffalo, remains a powerful symbol of how an individual battled injustice and won.
The Zoom event includes a screening of filmmaker Aaron Schillinger's video "Sarah Elizabeth Ray: The Rosa Parks of SS Columbia," followed by a panel discussion moderated by Detroit Historical Societys Malika Pryor and featuring Aaron Schillinger, author Desiree Cooper, and historian and professor Victoria Wolcott. The event will conclude with an update on the restoration of SS Columbia by SS Columbia Project Board Co-Chair Ian Danic and Executive Director Ann Loeding.
N/A, NY 10003