Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Photo: James Terry III/NAACP Baton Rouge Chapter.

Community Mourns after African American Museum Founder’s Body Is Found in Car Trunk

Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a beloved activist and community leader who founded an African American Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was found dead on Friday, July 12, NPR reports. Police discovered her body in the trunk of a car three miles from her home. While the cause of her death has yet to be disclosed, the Facebook page of the Baton Rouge Police Department says that “detectives are working diligently to bring the person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice.”

The news of Roberts-Joseph’s death shocked many in her community. The seventy-five-year-old was well known for her involvement in various initiatives to improve the lives of those around her. She led neighborhood trash cleanups, established a group that combats drugs and violence, and organized Juneteenth celebrations every year, which commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the United States.

In 2001, Roberts-Joseph launched the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum, a small nonprofit that collects art from the African diaspora; historical artifacts, such as a 1953 bus that was used at the time of the Baton Rouge bus boycotts, which protested the segregated public transportation system; and objects related to Barak Obama’s presidency.

“We have to be educated about our history and other people’s history,” Roberts-Joseph 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.”