WHERE: Outside the Palmer Park Community House, 1121 Merrill Plaisance, Detroit
Bill Harris and Robert Jones - 1pm
Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy - 2pm
A. Spencer Barefield Quintet - 3pm
Free, family-friendly event to pay tribute to late civil rights activist, Sarah Ray, through live music, dance performances, poetry and art on Saturday, August 20 in Detroit’s Palmer Park . In partnership with the Sarah E. Ray Project, the Detroit Parks Coalition and People for Palmer Park will celebrate Sarah Ray's legacy through world-class music — jazz, blues, gospel, multi-genre — poetry, dance and art that explore both the life of Ray and the fights for equality, social justice, freedom and hope that she and others inspire.
In 1945, Ray, a 24-year-old African American secretary, was denied a seat on the segregated Boblo boat, the 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 famed 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. She continued to be a civil rights activist throughout her life, mentoring and inspiring future generations. Ray passed away in 2006.
Featured artists include the widely acclaimed A. Spencer Barefield Quintet, the talented Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy with DWDA Artistic Director Debra White-Hunt and the impactful duo of Bill Harris and Rev. Robert Jones. Both Barefield and White-Hunt are creating new works to accompany narratives about Sarah E. Ray written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, author and historian Desiree Cooper. In addition to Barefield’s new composition to highlight the life of Sarah E. Ray, other pieces will explore themes of peace, racial equality, history and women and the fight for equal rights.
The event is part of the Detroit Parks Coalition Freedom Arts Festival, a citywide celebration with multiple free events over the summer and fall months to connect Detroiters to their neighborhood parks through cultural experiences. The festival series is supported by the Knight Foundation, a national foundation that invests in journalism, the arts and the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Sarah E. Ray Project website: https://www.detroitsotherrosaparks.com/
Detroit Parks Coalition website: https://www.detroitparkscoalition.com/
WDET Interview: The life of Sarah E. Ray will be celebrated at the Freedom Arts Festival
Metro Times article: https://www.metrotimes.com/arts/freedom-art-festival-to-celebrate-detroits-other-rosa-parks-30789953
Free Press article: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2022/08/16/downtown-detroit-event-sarah-ray/10336018002/