by G. Brown
Her murder sent shock waves through communities from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Revered activist and Bayou icon Sadie Roberts-Joseph body was found stuffed in the trunk of her car. a week ago. A coroner later confirmed she the cause of death was “traumatic asphyxia“–suffocation.
Police feared the well-known activist might have been the victim of a hate crime, but the investigation led to the doorsteps of a man who knew her.
Police arrested 38-year-old Ronn Jermaine Bell for the murder of the 75-year-old woman who was kind enough to give him a second chance.
Bell was a registered sex offender convicted of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in 2007. Ms. Sadie looked beyond his incarceration and violent past and gave him a place to stay. Bell admitted to police that he was behind on rent and owed Ms. Sadie $1200. He said that he tried contacting Ms. Sadie on the day of her murder to talk about the money he owed her, but she agreed to allow him to remain in the rental property and pay her a portion of the money. Police are trying to figure out if money may have been the motive in Ms. Sadie’s murder.
Her death has saddened much of the state. Ms. Sadie endeared herself to many in Louisiana because of how much she poured into trying to enrich her home community. When the Baton Rouge school district refused to make Black history mandatory in all in the schools, Ms. Sadie found another to put all that history and knowledge at the hands of kids and adults. She opened the Baton Rouge African-American Museum to preserve and present the accomplishments of inventors, activists, educators, even former President Barack Obama who paved the way for future generations. CNN says, “The museum was Roberts-Joseph’s “love letter” to Baton Rouge, a way for her to share black history with young people.”
It’s not known what will happen to the museum now that its creator and curator is gone. There are hopes someone will step up to preserve the museum. Maybe then, Ms. Sadie’s name will also be added hallowed halls as a woman who fought to cherish every bit of Black history and in so doing, made history herself.