On Friday afternoon, the body of Sadie Roberts-Joseph was found in the 2300 block of N. 20th Street in Baton Rouge. Roberts-Joseph was known throughout the community as a civil rights activist and the founder of the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum.
“Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community,” the Baton Rouge Police Department said in a statement. “Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community, she will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served.”
The museum, which is now known as the Baton Rouge African-American History Museum is located on the New St. Luke Baptist Church campus on South Boulevard. Roberts-Joseph’s brother serves as pastor there. In addition to the museum, Roberts-Joseph also founded Community Against Drugs and Violence, a non-profit that focuses on creating a safe environment for North Baton Rouge Children, and organized an annual Juneteenth festival.
“We lost a Cultural Legend Yesterday! #RIP Sadie Roberts Joseph,” the NAACP Baton Rouge Branch posted on Facebook. “From reviving Juneteenth, to the Culture preserved at Her Museum, she was a trendsetter and an icon in this City. #RIPower”
Roberts-Joseph encouraged black residents to embrace their heritage, while also embracing a message of unity and togetherness. In 2016 she told The Advocate, “Across racial lines, the community can help to build a better Baton Rouge, a better state, and a better nation.”
“My heart is empty,” said State Representative C. Denies Marcelle. “This woman was amazing and loved her history. She never bothered anyone, just wanted to expand her African American Museum downtown, where she continually hosted the Juneteenth Celebration yearly. I loved working with her and am saddened by her death.”
Police are still investigating Roberts-Joseph’s death, and have asked that anyone with information related to the case to contact Baton Rouge detectives at (225)-389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225)-344-7867.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor who publishes Wander N.O. More, a digital publication focused on the small businesses, events, people and projects that are the backbone of New Orleans. Her work has also been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_