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The River Road African American Museum is located in the downtown historic district of Donaldsonville and was founded on March 12, 1994.
Kathe Hambrick, the museum founder and director, returned to Louisiana from California in 1991. Upon returning to Louisiana, she soon discovered that although some things had changed, other things remained the same.
There was a lack of knowledge about the contributions of African Americans who lived and worked on the plantations along the Mississippi River.
Hambrick toured plantations that lined the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. These tours romanticized the lives of plantation owners and their families. Hambrick found that the history of the enslaved Africans was not included in the narratives that were presented on the plantation tours. Upon learning of this grave omission, she vowed to herself – “We must do something to tell our story…” Later on, one night, it just came to Hambrick that the answer was a museum.
In 1992, in a bold and courageous move, driven by a passion to fulfill her vision, Kathe Hambrick approached the owners of the Tezcuco Plantation and with great conviction asked the owners if they would let her use a vacant room at Tezcuco to start a museum.
On Mothers’ Day 12, 2002, the Tezcuco Plantation was engulfed by fire. The fire destroyed the 4,500 square-foot main plantation house. The River Road African American Museum collection was spared. The owners of Tezcuco decided not to rebuild.