Spring Lecture Series: All Aboard: How Sarah E. Ray Integrated the Boblo Boats

Join us for the third presentation of our 2024 Spring Lecture Series presented by Impact Employment Solutions. Offered as a hybrid event, participants can choose when registering to take part in person at the museum or online via Zoom.


Desiree Cooper, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and esteemed author, pulls back the curtain on the the often overlooked story of Sarah E. Ray, an African American woman who courageously stood up against discrimination while aboard a Boblo Boat sailing tourists from a dock in Detroit to the Boblo Island Amusement Park in Canada. The story of “Detroit’s Other Rosa Parks,” aka Ray, uncovers how one woman’s fight against racial injustice scored a win in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, becoming one of the many test cases that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and the end of legal segregation in America.

Through meticulous research and collaboration with filmmaker Aaron Schillinger, Cooper provides a comprehensive understanding of Ray’s journey and the broader implications of her legal victory. 

Cooper also highlights Ray’s remarkable milestones, such as her induction into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and the establishment of a dedicated archive at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library. 

This lecture is free, but registration is required. Donations are always happily accepted.

About the Presenter

Desiree Cooper is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and award-winning author. In 2020, she and Detroit filmmaker Aaron Schillinger co-founded The Sarah E. Ray Project to raise public awareness of the forgotten civil rights hero. Since its inception, the project’s work has led to Ray’s 2021 induction in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, designation of her abandoned Detroit home in 2021 as one of America’s “11 Most Endangered Historic Sites” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, inclusion of her obituary in the 2023 New York Times book Overlooked, and the establishment of the Sarah Ray archives at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library. Co-Founder Schillinger has released an award-winning feature film, “The Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale,” which includes the story of Ray’s fight to integrate the steamers. 





Meet our Sponsor

Impact Employment Solutions (IES) stands as a beacon of opportunity, offering a comprehensive suite of employment services tailored to meet the diverse needs of clients and job seekers alike. Specializing in temporary labor, temp-to-hire workforces, and direct hire permanent placements in HR, engineering, and technical trades, IES exemplifies dedication to facilitating seamless transitions into fulfilling employment opportunities.

Headquartered in Toledo, IES has forged enduring partnerships with numerous esteemed clients across Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, and Canada. Their tailored approach ensures that each client’s unique operational landscape and requirements are met with precision and excellence. With a track record of success and unwavering commitment to client satisfaction, IES continues to shape the employment landscape, one successful placement at a time.