Community Leader and Activist Found Dead in Car Trunk

The founder of the African-American History Museum in Baton Rouge, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, was found dead in the trunk of a car this past Friday afternoon.

The police discovered the 75-year-old Louisiana woman’s body just outside the area of downtown Baton Rouge. The vehicle was parked in a residential neighborhood about three miles from her home.

The museum is located on the property of New St. Luke Baptist Church and was initially founded in 2001 as the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum. The museum an array of items displayed ranging from African artifacts to plantation life to a bus used in the Civil Rights Movement.

The woman, whom some referred to as “Ms. Sadie,” was cherished by her community for her activism and community organizing. She would host annual Juneteenth celebrations that marked the end of bondage of all people enslaved years following the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War.

Louisiana State Representative C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, posted about Roberts-Joseph on Saturday:

“My heart is empty… as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered! 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…. whoever knows what happened to her, please contact the authorities and say something. RIP my friend!!! “#JusticeForSadieRobertsJoseph

In addition to hosting annual Juneteenth celebrations, Roberts-Joseph developed anti-drug and violence programs, occasionally conducting them with the local police department. Later, partnering with the Baton Rouge Police Department to create a community-based organization called Community Against Drugs and Violence (CADAV). This non-profit was built on the mission to provide a safer community and “develop a sense of pride, dignity, and awareness in our community.”

The cause of Roberts-Joseph’s death is still unknown and it is unclear what led officers to the vehicle.

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