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River Road African American Museum – Preserving & Honoring Culture & History

The mission of the River Road African American Museum is to educate visitors about the history and culture of African Americans in the rural communities of South Louisiana through the collection, preservation and interpretation of art, artifacts, and historical buildings.

Kathe Hambrick – Founder, River Road African American Museum (00:38) I would like to say welcome to the River Road, African-American Museum. What we do here at the River Road, African-American Museum, is connect the past to the present.

Darryl Hambrick – Iterim Director, River Road African American Museum (00:49)  Our museum was founded in 1994 by my sister Kathy Hambrick, and our family to actually talk about the history along the river here in south Louisiana. We’ve been around for about 29 years here in the Donaldsonville and Ascension Parish area and has become one of the premier museums for the state of Louisiana when it comes to African-American history.

KH (1:14) When you think about black history, what we want you to understand is that this was more than black history. This is Louisiana history. All of the rural communities are represented in this museum that we call the River Road, African-American Museum. This is America’s history. This is a part of world history.

DH (1:40) Our museum has collected various buildings and artifacts that are in relation to the life of those Africans who were brought to Louisiana to work the plantations and the lives of those descendants who now live in this community. Our museum talks about the resilience. We talk about the lives of those individuals who worked and made it possible for the economic development of this entire community.

KH  (2:07) Through our community programs, we hope to develop after school programs, a Saturday program and a summer camp so that the children of today can learn about this history. And hopefully it will encourage and inspire them to do better in the future.

DH (2:26) Another highlight is our exhibit on jazz. We talk about the origins of jazz. Most people relate to New Orleans as that place and the birthplace of jazz. We give them credit for the birthplace, but we have one of the greatest jazz musicians of all times by the name of King Oliver, who was born about a mile and a half from here, not far from here in a town called Albion.

DH(2:52) We have various tours. We have a self-guided tour where you can come in and kind of walk and read the information that’s being presented here on your own. We do have guided tours with that directors, which is kind of an executive type tour. We also offer bicycle tours called Museum on Wheels. We take you on a bicycle ride around the community and talk about the importance of the African-American influences just throughout this community.

DH (3:16) This house was built in the early 1900s, and so many people have never had the opportunity even to walk into one of these spaces. Nevertheless, to come inside and to find the information that we have displayed here and exhibited here at our museum, our museum says in order to understand the future, we must take a look at our past.