Community gathers to restore vandalized African American museum, teach children the benefits of fellowship

Community gathers to restore vandalized African American museum, teach children the benefits of fellowship

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rhythmic drumming poured out of windows at the Odell S. Williams Now And Then African American Museum Saturday, Aug. 17. Inside, Jason Roberts-Joseph sat surrounded by several young children cautiously hitting their drums to keep in sync with their neighbors.

Roberts-Joseph says the drumming is part of a community building exercise.

Kids take part in a drumming exercise as volunteers restore the Odell S. Williams African American Museum
Kids take part in a drumming exercise as volunteers restore the Odell S. Williams African American Museum

“Playing with those kids is really what this museum was founded around, it was allowing themselves a space to open up to the culture,” said Roberts-Joseph.

By drumming in the group, young children learn the importance of building up those around them and working together to create something beautiful.

Saturday marked the first time Roberts-Joseph was able to use the museum as a space to perform the exercise since the death of his mother, the late Sadie Roberts-Joseph.

"That was what she was about. That really made me feel good to be able to do that again for the first time since she’s been gone,” said Roberts-Joseph.

Jason Roberts-Joseph says his family will continue to work in sync with members of the community to preserve the Odell S. Williams African American Museum which was founded by his late mother, Sadie Roberts-Joseph.
Jason Roberts-Joseph says his family will continue to work in sync with members of the community to preserve the Odell S. Williams African American Museum which was founded by his late mother, Sadie Roberts-Joseph.

Outside, community members gathered at the museum were putting that same lesson to use.

Early Saturday, several volunteers showed up to the museum to help remove debris and restore structures that were recently vandalized. They’d heeded the call of Tyrus Georgetown, a Southern University student who’d heard news of the vandalism and decided it was up to the community to help restore the museum.

Tyrus Georgetown is a students at Southern University who called on friends and strangers to help restore vandalized structures at the Odell S. Williams African American Museum.
Tyrus Georgetown is a students at Southern University who called on friends and strangers to help restore vandalized structures at the Odell S. Williams African American Museum.

For several hours the group of long-time associates and new friends worked together to create new beautiful structures for visitors.

Roberts-Joseph says the vandalism could have been a setback to attracting community members to the area. Some already questioned whether the museum would be able to be sustained without Sadie Roberts-Joseph.

Jason Roberts-Joseph says the actions of the volunteers are a positive sign that the community is invested in preserving the space. By working together to keep the museum open, Roberts-Joseph says the museum and his mother’s legacy will continue to be a place used to foster generosity and fellowship among neighbors.

“The museum is coming back it’s going to move forward,” said Roberts-Joseph. “My mom pushed it this far, and my sister and I are going to take it to the next step and we’re going to continue. This is not going to stop.”

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.