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July 13, 2019

DAILYKENN.com -- The founder of an African-American history museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was found dead in a car trunk. The victim was identified as Sadie Roberts-Joseph, 75. 

No cause of death was reported.

From theadvocate.com ▼

Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American History Museum in 2001. The museum is part of the New St. Luke Baptist Church campus on South Boulevard, where Roberts-Joseph's brother serves as pastor. It sits in the shade of elevated Interstate 10 that bisects the historically black neighborhood of Old South Baton Rouge.

Roberts-Joseph also became known for organizing an annual Juneteenth festival at the museum. She told the Advocate during the 2018 celebration that she led a "rebirth of Juneteenth" in Baton Rouge back in 1991. The day commemorates June 19, 1865, when the state of Texas first learned from Union soldiers of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation — signed more than two years earlier, on Jan. 1, 1863 — declaring all slaves in the South were free.

Through her decades of leadership in the Baton Rouge area, Roberts-Joseph presented a consistent message of unity and togetherness aimed at helping communities "heal from the legacy of slavery and move forward." She encouraged black residents to embrace their heritage, acknowledging past injustices and using their voices to close racial divides and create a brighter future: "If you don't know where you come from, you don't know where you're going."

"We have to be educated about our history and other people's history," she told the Advocate in 2016. "Across racial lines, the community can help to build a better Baton Rouge, a better state and a better nation."

Roberts-Joseph also used her position to encourage African American children. She celebrated the election of Barack Obama, who is featured prominently in the museum. She said his presidency "gives children in particular a sense of hope. As we inspire and as we educate them, we will see our youth doing greater things." 


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