African American Life
This quiet neighborhood between the river and the railroad retains a number of historic features related to the struggles and achievements of Louisiana African Americans.
The Rosenwald School building in front of you was relocated from a site 15 miles downriver. The River Road African American Museum (RRAAM) is using it to communicate the importance of education in empowering African Americans freed from the sugar and rice plantations along the river. For more of the story, visit the main museum building a short walk from here.
The River Road African American Museum tells compelling stories of life along the river from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.
(1) River Road African American Museum
This Caribbean-style cottage features exhibits touching on plantation life, the Underground Railroad, and the Reconstruction era. The Museum's collection of historic photos, documents, and artifacts honor outstanding civic leaders, doctors, jazz musicians, and folk artists.
The restored cypress building in front of you represents one of thousands of rural schools for African American
(3)True Friends Hall
The True Friends Benevolent Society Hall (built 1883) once housed a fraternal group that provided medical and burial insurance for members. The hall hosted carnival balls, dances, plays and jam sessions. Concert performers included Fats Domino and James Brown.
Claiborne Williams (1868-1952) grew up on a plantation and made his first violin from a cigar box. Settling in Donaldsonville, he built a solid career as a jazz band leader and toured the U.S., Canada and Europe. He loved teaching music to greats like Dave Bartholomew as well as budding talents here in the community.
First Black Mayor
Donaldsonville Mayor Pierre Caliste Landry (right) is noted as the first African American mayor of a United States town. Landry, who grew up as a slave on a plantation across the river, earned a law degree and served several terms in the Louisiana legislature.
Erected by Ascension Parish Tourism Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Education
Location. 30° 6.01′ N, 90° 59.371′ W. Marker is in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, in Ascension Parish. Marker is at the intersection of Lessard Street and Williams Street, on the right when traveling north on Lessard Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Donaldsonville LA 70346, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Central Agricultural School (within shouting distance of this marker); Bicentennial Jazz Plaza (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Canary Islanders Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); War Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Louisiana Square (approx. 0.3 miles away); Donaldsonville (approx. 0.3 miles away); Francis T. Nicholls (approx. 0.3 miles away); Charles "Chalou" Trepagnier Building (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Donaldsonville.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 12, 2020, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 39 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 12, 2020, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana.