RRAAM faces funding troubles; doors could close
Darryl Hambrick, Co-founder of the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville, revealed the museum is facing a major funding issue that could force it to close doors. Hambrick said Monday night at the Ascension Parish Voter’s League (APVL) meeting at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Gonzales that the museum of 21 years has gotten very little support and due to the reduction of funds from the legislature’s hotel/motel tax the museum is in dire need.
“Our museum is under attack,” Hambrick said. “Right now, our museum doors are about to close.”
“We’ve received some support from our government. Thanks to Roy Quezaire who supported us when we opened our museum and thanks to some of those who still support us,” Hambrick said. “But it takes more to support us. It takes the efforts of the individuals who live in the community and the individuals who come from around the world.”
The museum has operated four-to-five days a week and by appointments. But due to budget cuts the operating hours have been reduced.
Hambrick revealed to the APVL that the state never considered nor included the RRAAM in the state’s museum funding, despite that funding being reduced as well.
“But we should’ve been getting that money and we should’ve been part of those cuts,” Hambrick said. “Our museum and this history of the African Americans in Louisiana are just as important as any museum in this state.”
Hambrick asked for the support of the APVL and other entities and organizations to keep the museum operating. The museum will begin a GoFunding campaign to raise $93,000 this year, and that significant number is symbolic of the True Friends Benevolent Society who raised $93,000 in the early 1900s.
“We need all of your support,” Hambrick said. “It is important that we keep the voice of that museum open and we’re asking for you to let people know we need your help.”
Other funding for the museum has come from door admission sales of $5 per person, individual and business donations, and grants. Hambrick said the museum’s main goal now is to remain operable and keep the lights on so tourists can still come in.
APVL President Quezaire, who was a 16-year state representative, said the museum has a very special ambiance to it.
“Once you step onto the property and into the structure the stories unfold and it just sends the message home even closer to each and every one of us that as we are the melting pot it just proves beyond a shadow of doubt we are tied to one another,” Quezaire said. “If you went there you would feel it, sense it and you would be very proud to tell the stories that exist there.”
Quezaire added: “It’s a wealth of knowledge that we should all embrace, black, white, yellow, brown, rich poor, it doesn’t matter because there is some resemblance to us all. That is a treasure that we have and I was fortunate and blessed when I was in office for 16 years to make sure that it stayed funded. We have to be resilient and come to the need of such a worthy cause.”
The RRAAM is located at 406 Charles Street in Donaldsonville. For more information on how to support or tour the museum contact Kathe Hambrick-Jackson at email@example.com.