Sadie Roberts-Joseph: 5 things to know about African American museum founder

The founder of an African American Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was found dead in the trunk of a car over the weekend.

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Baton Rouge Police Department officials said Sadie Roberts-Joseph, 75, was found around 3:45 p.m. on Friday, according to WAFB-TV. Authorities have released few details about her death. The beloved community leader is known for founding the Baton Rouge African-American Museum, which she started in 2001. She was also famous for her annual Juneteenth festival, which was held at the museum.

As news of her death spread, many took to social media to express their condolences, including The King Center.

As the investigation into the circumstances of her death ensues, many are curious about Roberts-Joseph’s life. Here’s what you should know about the beloved community leader.

She was born into a big family in Mississippi. 

One of 11 siblings, Roberts-Joseph grew up in Woodville, Mississippi, before moving to Baton Rouge with her family, according to The Advocate. She attended Baton Rouge Vocational-Technical School and later enrolled into Southern University, where she studied both education and speech pathology.

She began serving as a community leader at a young age. 

Although she worked as a certified respiratory therapy technician for decades, she held several volunteer roles within the black community, The Advocate reported. She was also a minority business officer for the city of Baton Rouge and created Community Against Drugs and Violence, a non-profit organization focused in creating a safer environment for children in North Baton Rouge, according to CNN.

In 2011, she founded an African American museum in Baton Rouge. 

The activist founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American Museum, which is also known as the Baton Rouge African-American History Museum. It is part of the New St. Luke Baptist Church campus, where one of Roberts-Joseph's brother serves as pastor, according to The Advocate. She later began hosting Juneteenth festivals at the museum. “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.”

She ran for public office twice. 

In 1996, she ran for U.S. Senator for the state of Louisiana, and in 1999, she ran for the lieutenant governor for the state, according to The Advocate. Both bids were unsuccessful.

Her death is under investigation. 

Baton Rouge authorities said Roberts-Joseph was found Friday afternoon in the trunk of a car, WAFB reported. Officials would not say how she was discovered, but the vehicle was about three miles from her home.

According to the Associated Press, investigators are waiting for a coroner to determine a cause of death.

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