Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a prominent figure in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was discovered dead in the trunk of a car on Friday, July 12. The Baton Rouge Police Department has not yet discovered the cause of her death and has not announced what led authorities to her body.
The 75-year-old activist and curator founded the city’s nonprofit Odell S. Williams Now & Then Museum of African American History in 2001. She has hosted a Juneteenth celebration in the Louisiana city for years and is known for saying, “Culture is the glue that holds a people together. Take a step back in time and leap into your future.”
According to the Associated Press, the museum exhibited African art, exhibits on Black inventors and growing cotton, and “a 1953 bus from the period of civil rights boycotts in Baton Rouge.” There were also exhibits on President Barack Obama, who Roberts-Joseph referred to as an inspiration to youth.
“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.”
In a statement, the Baton Rouge Police Department wrote:
Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community. We had opportunities to work with her on so many levels. From assisting with her bicycle give away at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV. (Community Against Drugs and Violence) 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.
They continued: “Our detectives are working diligently to bring the person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice.” They ask that anyone who has information related to Roberts-Joseph’s death call detectives at 225-389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP (7867).
She was discovered approximately three miles from her residence. The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy.
In a Facebook post, Louisiana State Representative C. Denise Marcelle said, “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.”
NAACP Baton Rouge Branch wrote in a remembrance on Facebook, “From reviving Juneteenth, to the Culture preserved at Her Museum, she was a trendsetter and icon in this City.”