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Popular Bryan historian celebrated at funeral, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Posted at 8:40 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 21:40:03-05

BRYAN, Texas — Texas Gov. Pat Neff famously said, "The preservers of history are as heroic as its makers."

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, dozens of people took time to celebrate someone considered one of Bryan's most heroic historians.

Oliver Wayne Sadberry Jr., curator with the Brazos Valley African American Museum, had been an active cornerstone of the museum longer than any of its leaders. Last year, he spoke to KRHD about the importance of learning about the past during Juneteenth.

“The problem, you see, is it was separate but never equal," the late Sadberry said. "And it was separate when I was a kid, and we fought long and hard for it not to be separate.”

Sadberry came from a long line of hard-working Bryan natives, freed from slavery in the 1800s to raise doctors, educators, and Aggie Airmen. Before his passing this Jan. 11, Sadberry had spent decades preserving not only his family history but the history of black community members all across Bryan-College Station.

"Preserving history was important to him," said funeral home celebrant Dawn Lee Wakefield, addressing the crowd at Callaway-Jones in Bryan. "And that is where the museum took off. Oral histories are part of the Carnegie Library downtown, they’re part of our museum, and they are also part of the practice now that we have in mind.”

Sadberry is one of only a select few people, she noted, to receive a national award for preserving family history. He played such a critical role in preserving local black history and was able to draw interest in his efforts from many different ethnicities.

“He mentioned that one of the main reasons there were prejudices still going on is because we, the members of different races, don’t associate with each other," recalled Bhman Yazdani, a longtime friend of Sadberry’s.

Friends and family celebrated Sadberry’s legacy Monday morning before he was laid to rest. The Brazos Valley African American Museum [BVAAM] opened its doors for MLK Day, even though the museum is typically closed on Mondays. That’s how Saderry would have wanted it.

"Martin Luther King Jr., in one of his speeches he said that [he] refuses to live in hate - I choose love," said Barry Davis, another longtime friend of Sadberry’s. "That’s the way Oliver Wayne Sadberry lived his life.”

Sadberry’s friends and family said he was continually striving to collect donations that would help keep the BVAAM operational. To make a donation, visit the following link:

Brazos Valley African American Museum – Donations (bvaam.org)