To Top

The African-American History Museum, in the Wake of Founder’s Death

Sadie Roberts-Joseph, founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African-American Museum, was murdered two weeks ago. She mentored young people and urged them towards self-sufficiency. She founded the nonprofit Community Against Drugs and Violence, and kept it going for nearly three decades. She hosted vigils for those killed by gun violence. Her museum, according to volunteer Myra Richardson, was her way of sharing black history with the young people of Baton Rouge. Roberts-Joseph was born to sharecroppers. She grew up picking cotton, and she was 75 when she died.

Her alleged killer was a tenant of hers. It was a shock to the community, Myra Richardson said, that somebody who knew her could “have such a disregard for life — especially her life,” But, as her family members said at her vigil, hating her killer isn’t what Roberts-Joseph would have wanted. He was a part of this city. “She cared for the city,” her son said. “She cared for him. She would want forgiveness for him.”

And the way she cared for the city is on full display in her African-American Museum. Located beneath Interstate 10, it’s the only museum dedicated to African-American history in all of Baton Rouge. The museum’s first room holds artifacts from African nations. The wallpaper of the second room is made up of clippings from the Louisiana Civil Rights movement. The third room is filled with paintings of black inventors, and the fourth and final room is filled with pictures of Barack Obama and African-American veterans. Outside the museum, in the parking lot, is a bus installation that commemorates the Civil Rights bus boycotts. Past that, away from the shadow of the interstate, is a patch of cotton. Roberts-Joseph planted it herself.

In 2001, she reached out to the Louisiana House of Representatives and the State Secretary of Education and petitioned for Louisiana public schools to fully cover the injustices still committed against black people. . Her request was denied, and she founded the African-American History Museum in this very same year. This, along with the tours she gave to local school groups, was part of her effort to nurture children into leaders. “She always thought if you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going,” her brother said. “Her main goal was to get people to learn their history. And it’s not black history. It’s American history.”

“All my mother ever wanted was for this community to come together. It’s ironic that that happened in death,” said Roberts-Joseph’s daughter. “What she wanted to happen in life came to fruition in death. However, we will see to it that her legacy continues.”

Featured Image by Marc Moss on Flickr

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Be Informed

  • No More Bumps: 5 Steps to Smooth Skin

    Ladies, it’s hard to feel nice and smooth after shaving when ingrown hairs and bumps immediately take the spotlight. However, not...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 13, 2020
  • Healthy Social Media Use

    Social media presence has increased for decades, remaining incredibly prevalent in everyday life. Cultivate healthy habits by learning about the effects...

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 12, 2020
  • No Woman was Surprised by What Happened to AOC

    A few weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was insulted by Representative Ted Yoho being called a “f—ing bitch” and “dangerous.” Afterwards,...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 12, 2020
  • The Meaning Behind #ChallengeAccepted

    Recently, a trend has surfaced on Instagram where women nominate one another privately to post a black and white picture of...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 11, 2020
  • Why Anti-feminism can be Fatal

    Recently, New Jersey Federal Judge Esther Salas and her family were attacked resulting in the loss of her son and injury...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 7, 2020
  • Elijah McClain: What to Know and What to Do

    Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old innocent black man killed by Colorado police. Recently, a peaceful protest and vigil in his honor...

    Kalyn WomackJuly 31, 2020
  • What does #FreeBritney Mean?

    Dedicated Britney Spears fans have been in fear of her safety during quarantine. They noticed her social media presence to be...

    Kalyn WomackJuly 23, 2020
  • How The Handmaid’s Tale Remains Relevant

    The Handmaid's Tale seems to reflect our world today. Is Atwood's novel entirely dystopian, or is she warning us?

    Lydia SchapiroJuly 23, 2020
  • 6 False Assumptions about Mental Illness

    There are various stigmas surrounding mental illness, and it is often difficult for affected individuals to feel appreciated. Learning about mental...

    Lydia SchapiroJuly 16, 2020
  • Black Girls: Forced to Grow Up too Soon

    The issue of hypersexualizaton is the fault of the black girl when she’s born. Her appearance and behavior is strictly monitored....

    Kalyn WomackJuly 15, 2020