Detroit's Other Rosa Parks

Until now a Detroit civil rights pioneer named Sarah Elizabeth Ray has been largely forgotten. With your help we will expand our short film into an interactive multimedia examination and celebration of her life.

What we know:
Seventy-five years ago a 24-year-old, African American secretary was denied a seat on the segregated Boblo boat, SS Columbia. Like Rosa Parks, she refused to back down, taking her fight for integration all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Represented by fabled NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, Ray won her case. Scholars argue that she paved the way for the seminal,1954 Brown v. Board of Education, which found that separate was inherently unequal.

With your support our multimedia project will include:
- An expanded 30 min documentary for classrooms and public television
- An interactive website exploring Sarah E. Ray’s life and accomplishments
- In depth research and reporting on Sarah's life and impact on her community
- Creating an archive of Sarah’s photos and documents
- Applying for matching grants
- Establishing partnerships with non-profit organizations

Who we are:


Our team consists of 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Pulitzer Prize nominee, and former attorney Desiree Cooper ; award winning documentary filmmaker Aaron Schillinger ; and our unstoppable researcher Sarah Grieve.

What we need your help to discover:
Our questions could fill a room: What did Sarah do after winning her case to integrate her local amusement park? What was her impact on her community? Why is her contribution to history not more well known? What other cases helped set a precedent for Brown v. Board of Education? What primary sources still exist?


We need your help now.
Help us mark the 75th anniversary of Sarah’s historic fight! This is the first time a team of experienced researchers, journalists and filmmakers have joined forces to excavate and document the life of this important, American civil rights activist. But as time passes, those who knew her, and the evidence of her life are passing, too. We must move quickly before her story is forever lost.

If we are able to meet our initial goal of $25K, we have a few exciting stretch goals in mind. We would love create a mural of Sarah E. Ray on a wall in Detroit's east side where Sarah lived and worked. We are already meeting with talented local female artists of color. 

By supporting us you are shaping history.
With this country in the middle of a health and social justice crisis, we need to remember our history. Please help us share the message of Sarah E. Ray so that others may learn of her contributions. Not only will you receive special thanks in the film’s credits, but you will also get a special preview to the website and a copy of the completed film. Below are the funding tiers we need your help to reach!

TIER 1 - $2,500 Preproduction and Development 
What we need to get started on our Sarah E. Ray journey! 
- Interviewing and hiring the team
- Image acquisitions
- History books
- Squarespace website and design
- Initial screenings & partner outreach
- Research supplies and archival equipment
- Subscriptions to newspaper archives and background check services 

TIER 2 - $5K Begin Production and Writing 
One we hit Tier 2 we can get out in the field and start our creative work with informational interviews and treatment writing:
- First draft of script
- Tracing and interviewing Sarah E. Ray’s surviving network 
- Camera, light and sound rentals
- Video editing equipment and software
- Assistant Editor for transcriptions and assemblies 

TIER 3 - $10K Advanced Production and Writing 
Tier 3 allows us to take our cinematography and writing to the next level!
- Script rewrites
- Steadicam and drone cinematography
- Production Designer for reenactments
- Casting and rehearsal with narrator

TIER 4 - $15K Post production
This is where the magic happens and we shape the material we have been capturing:
- Video editing
- Consulting editors
- Voiceover recording
- Studio rental

TIER 5 - $20K Rights, Music & Talent
We are getting close to completing the film but have mandatory costs to share our product with an audience:
- Music composing
- Talent fees
- Archival Researcher and License Specialist
- Usage rights (archival images and video)

TIER 6 - $25K Finishing and Interactive Website
With this tier we can professionally finish the film and launch it with an interactive website!
- Sound design
- Color correction
- Graphic Design
- 3D laser scanning of Sarah E. Ray’s surviving artifacts
- Interactive website design and hosting

TIER 7 Stretch Goal - $35K Mural of Sarah E. Ray
We want to create a breathtaking mural in Detroit to commemorate Sarah E. Ray for generations to come
- Certificate of historical significance 
- Purchase space for mural
- Commissioned artist
- Materials



  • Cari Noga 
    • $50 
    • 23 hrs
  • Carolyn Borman  
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Bronwyn Jones 
    • $100 
    • 2 d
  • Paula K Olsen 
    • $100 
    • 12 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 13 d
See all

Fundraising team: Aaron Schillinger & Desiree Cooper (3)

Aaron Schillinger 
Highland Park, MI
Desiree Cooper 
Team member
Sarah Grieve 
Team member
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