Perseverance, Strength and Faith

The River Road African American Museum, located in the historic district of Donaldsonville, Louisiana is the premier facilitiy in the South to focus on the history and heritage of
African Americans along the Mississippi River.
The River Road African American Museum exhibits include Free People of Color; African Influences on Louisiana Cuisine; Rural Roots of Jazz; Black Doctors of the River Road; Louisiana Black Inventors; Folk Artists; Louisiana Underground Railroad; Reconstruction Period; History of Education in Plantation Country and Slave Inventories
Visit the River Road African American Museum and learn about the past in order to understand the future.
Learn about the story of the River Road African American Museum from its beginning to our future plans. Here also you find is our vision/mission statements and a letter from the founder/director of the museum, Kathe Hambrick.


With over 300 years of history, the legacy and importance of Africans in America to the growth of the South, the United States and the world is evident through the collection and exhibits of rare artifacts found at the museum.

We invite you to view a glimpse of the exhibits we offer at the River Road African American Museum here on our website. History awaits you.

Although New Orleans is known as the birthplace of Jazz, a lesser-known fact is that many African American performing artists hailed from or were born in the river parishes: Ascension, Assumption, St. James, St. Charles and St. John. Trace the roots of Jazz through its rural beginnings by exploring local musicians such as:

Joe King Oliver - Was Louis Armstrong’s mentor. Oliver was born in Abend, Louisiana in 1885, a mile or two down river from Donaldsonville.

Plas Johnson - Played the slinking intro to Henry Mancinis "Pink Panther" theme. This Donaldsonville native, has played a standard part of the orchestral recordings with Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra.

Bill Summers - Bill Summers grew up in Ascension Parish. Summers is internationally recognized for his work on the Emmy Award winning television series Roots, The Wiz, and The Color Purple.

Other entertainment greats from the rural area were Claiborne Williams, Billy Kersand, Papa Celestine, Worthia “Showboy” Thomas, Ernie Kato, Kid Ory, Fats Domino and hundreds of others. Look for the future exhibit on the rural roots of jazz designed for the True Friends Benevolent Society Hall.


406 Charles Street  |  Donaldsonville, LA 70346
Phone: 225.474.5553  |
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