Hundreds gather to celebrate life and legacy of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

Hundreds gather to celebrate life and legacy of Sadie Roberts-Joseph
Sadie Roberts-Joseph outside the Odell S. Williams Museum of African American History (April 27, 2016). (Source: Felicia Leggio Braud)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A celebration of life for slain local legend Sadie Roberts-Joseph was held Monday, July 22.

The celebration was held at the Living Faith Christian Center, located at 6375 Winbourne Avenue. Those attending were encouraged to wear black-colored clothing or African print.

Family and friends reflected on Roberts-Joseph’s legacy with everything from uplifting gospel numbers to passionate messages about the activist and community leader from those who knew her well.

“Ms. Sadie would be proud of us right now because ultimately, her goal was to be the glue, and she has us all here today,” said one family friend.

“She lived a life before us that demonstrated to us that it’s okay to live life off beat, it’s okay to be unique, it’s okay to be different,” said Dr. Shalamar Armstrong, Roberts-Joseph’s nephew.

HAPPENING NOW: A celebration of life for Sadie Roberts-Joseph. https://bit.ly/2xQTt1O

Posted by WAFB Channel 9 on Monday, July 22, 2019

Several Louisiana officials also spoke at Roberts-Joseph’s service, including Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

“She devoted her entire life to worthy causes, and what she was able to accomplish inspires me, and you, and all of us,” Edwards said.

“Sadie Roberts-Joseph was a beacon of life to our community. She was a renaissance woman in that she took on multiple roles: community advocate, historian, educator. She was actually a known matriarch of this community,” said Broome.


Roberts-Joseph, founder of the Odell S. Williams Now & Then African-American Museum in Baton Rouge, was found suffocated in the trunk of her car on Friday, July 12. She was 75-years-old.

Signs of love and thanks now decorate the museum founded by activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph.
Signs of love and thanks now decorate the museum founded by activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph. (Source: WAFB)
Signs of love and thanks now decorate the museum founded by activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph.
Signs of love and thanks now decorate the museum founded by activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph. (Source: WAFB)

On Tuesday, July 16, police announced an arrest had been made in her case.

Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, is a registered sex offender and was a tenant of Roberts-Joseph. Police say Bell was about $1,200 behind on rent payments to Roberts-Joseph, but an official motive wasn’t determined.


The community gathered to honor the legacy of Roberts-Joseph with a vigil Tuesday, July 16.

Community leaders and friends organized the vigil honoring Roberts-Joseph at the Odell S. Williams Now & Then Museum of African American History, a museum she helped to found.

“She is everything that people have said about her,” friend, Jacqueline L. Jones, said. “My heart is still heavy, but it is because she was such a beautiful spirit that I find joy, and I really feel blessed to have known her.”

Attendees left dozens of notes for “Ms. Sadie” and her family, most of them “thank yous” for the activist’s constant pursuit of peace.

If you’re interested in making a donation, your contributions can be made at any Hancock/Whitney Bank to The Sadie Roberts-Joseph Memorial Fund.

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