- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DONALDSONVILLE, La. (AP) - For the first time in 20 years, a funding shortfall has led the River Road African American Museum to cut its hours from five days a week to Saturday and Sunday afternoons only with group tours by appointment.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1bpRS62 ) the nonprofit museum in downtown Donaldsonville is filled with artifacts and documents that shine a light on African-American history makers as well as the story of slavery.

But two decades after its inception, the founders want to make sure the museum dedicated to the past has a future.

When he talks to schoolchildren about history, Darryl Hambrick, who describes himself as a “lifetime board member” of the museum, often brings a top hat and vest to evoke Pierre Landry, who in 1868 became the first black mayor of Donaldsonville and the first black mayor in the U.S.

“Many stories like that will not be heard because of funding problems. The doors of the museum may close” without new sources of funding, Hambrick said.

In April, the museum will launch a fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding and fundraising site GoFundMe.

“We’re about to make an appeal not only in Louisiana but internationally. We’ve had visitors from all over the world,” Hambrick said.

The little museum is about to host six buses of eighth-graders, Hambrick said, and that’s a regular occurrence.

Hambrick, along with his sister, Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, the museum’s executive director, and their three brothers are the backbone of the museum.

The family is grateful for all the support they’ve received from the community and visitors over the years, he said. But after two decades, Hambrick-Jackson said the question for the museum is: “If we’re (she and her brothers) no longer here, how does this institution sustain itself for another 21 years so the next generation of children growing up in this community will be able to learn” about their heritage?

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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