A message from our friends at Explore Buffalo Introducing Steamer Columbia, Uncovering an Icon in the Fight for Universal Civil Rights:
“When Sarah Elizabeth Ray boarded Steamer Columbia for a graduation cruise on the Detroit River in June 1945, little did she know that her actions that day would transform Michigan and set the stage for the civil rights era. Sarah was removed from the vessel owing only to the color of her skin. Yet discrimination and segregation was illegal in Michigan. The company operating the vessel appeared to be breaking Michigan law. With the help of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, a law suit was filed. It went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where The People of Michigan and Sarah prevailed, thus putting an end to illegal segregation in Michigan. A decade before Rosa Parks and the bus, Sarah set the stage for and inspired the Rosa Parks circle. Introducing Steamer Columbia will survey the story of Columbia, built in 1902, reflect on the important civil rights history of the boat, and provide an on-board tour of the vessel.”
, for more information.