Our Rich Legacy of African American History
During the month of June, Juneteenth is celebrated, commemorating the end of slavery in America. The history of African Americans in this area is a part of our cultural landscape and heritage. Nestled right between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Ascension Parish is an immense collection of diverse histories. Louisiana’s Sweet Spot has a mixed past as vast sugar plantations once dotted the landscape, and we work at sharing all of our collective stories. Names such as Gonzales, Sorrento and Donaldsonville reflect the story of a blended cultural past. This is a place where Caribbean rhythms overlap with jazz, blues, and plantation-European parlor music, where soul food merges with Creole cuisine, and where art, agriculture and industry meld to echo yesterday and today.
The River Road African American Museum collects, preserves and exhibits art, artifacts and buildings as it is related to the history and culture of African Americans in the rural communities along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge & New Orleans. More than just a slavery museum it is an institution that tells the stories of freedom, resilience and reconciliation. There are exhibits on the roots of Jazz, African influences on Louisiana cuisines, artists, inventors, doctors, slavery, and the Underground Railroad, along with many more options for touring.
In addition to exhibits and events, the museum is now also offering a Black History on Wheels Tour for a new kind of historical adventure on the River Road!
There is also a gift shop to bring home a memento of your journey. From interesting reads to posters and even a River Road African American shirt or hat to sport proudly. You can even go online to shop and support the works of the museum now.
So, make the time to explore the historic buildings, artifacts, exhibits, and stories that make up the historical narrative of the River Road African American Museum. If you get the chance, spend some time with museum visionary, Kathe Hambrick, whose efforts and leadership have been the guiding light for the project for more than a quarter of a century!
Nearby, you’ll also want to visit Framer Dave’s Frame shop, located on Mississippi St in the heart of the historic district of Donaldsonville where you can see local artist, Alvin Batiste, at work and purchase his art. Alvin Batiste is a self-taught primitive artist and Louisiana’s premier folk artist. He has gained international recognition through his artistic depictions of life along the Mississippi. “Alvin Batiste has infectiously managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of people from every demographic, he is a visionary and a storyteller.”
The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts in Louisiana’s Sweet Spot, Ascension Parish, has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.