SS Columbia

All Aboard the SS Columbia

Explore the history of America’s oldest surviving passenger steamer and its ties to the Civil Rights movement!

  • Hear the story of Sarah Elizbeth Ray, “the Rosa Parks of the SS Columbia” 
  • See an onboard tour of the historic vessel built in 1902
  • Discover what the steamer was like in the heyday of steamer passenger travel
  • Find out where the SS Columbia is now and learn about efforts to restore the ship


About this Webinar:

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 would one day 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, even though discrimination and segregation were illegal in Michigan. The company operating the vessel appeared to be breaking Michigan law.  With the help of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, a lawsuit and went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. A decade before Rosa Parks and the bus, Sarah set the stage for and inspired the Rosa Parks circle. 

In this virtual talk, Introducing Steamer Columbia, guests will hear the story of Columbia which was built-in 1902, reflect on the important civil rights history of the boat, and see an onboard tour of the vessel.

Columbia is currently docked in the Buffalo River. See for more information.

Attendees will receive a link to join the webinar after completing the registration

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