State prisoners in Louisiana donated $11,350 to a Black museum in Baton Rouge that was started by a well-known and loved community activist who was slain last year.
Inmates in the Louisiana Department of Corrections gave the gift to the Odell S. Williams African-American Museum, which was founded in 2001 by Sadie Roberts-Joseph. The museum, named after an educator from Baton Rouge, had been closed since Roberts-Joseph, 75, was found dead in the trunk of a car last July, allegedly suffocated by a man who had been renting from her and who had fallen behind on the rent, reported WBRZ 2.
Robert-Joseph’s son and daughter accepted the check in their mom’s honor and named a few projects —from adding a library to increase outreach efforts —to be funded from the gift. Both say they plan on reopening the museum in June. They say their mom, who was deeply involved in the community and loved attending Black history events, would love to see the museum continue.
“This is such a blessing. This museum meant so much to our mother, and it means so much to us to have these incarcerated individuals dig deep and give so much to keep this museum open,” Angela Roberts Machen told WBRZ 2.
Some inmates from the Department of Corrections were also allowed to tour the museum.
Jimmy Le Blanc, the state’s top prison official, applauded the inmates for a job well done.
“Our inmate organizations are very generous, donating money each year to worthy causes. I’m very proud of them for helping the family continue the legacy of Ms. Sadie,” Le Blanc told WBRZ 2.
The Odell S. Williams African-American Museum includes African art, exhibits which show how to grow cotton and information on Black inventors. The museum features a 1953 bus denoting a time when Black people in Baton Rouge staged civil rights boycotts.
Another popular exhibit at the museum is one highlighting President Barack Obama, who Roberts-Joseph called an inspiration to children.