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UMTV: Historic Black Haven

After the Civil War, one of the biggest challenges for African Americans was getting an education. One school, deep in the South, shaped black history by becoming a haven and refuge for children seeking a better life. Today, Sager-Brown continues its long tradition of making a difference. In this video from 2004, we meet a woman who has seen the site change over time. 

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Evelyn Lewis is a living history book. For seven decades, she has lived near Bayou Teche in Baldwin, La., seeing ripples of change in her community.

Evelyn Lewis: “Hey, how you doing?”

Today she spends time at the United Methodist-supported Sager-Brown Center handing out food to seniors. Since the Civil War, Sager-Brown has been a haven from racial prejudice in the South. It was in this very place Lewis attended school as a child – a school that started when it was illegal to teach African Americans to read and write.  What she learned helped her graduate from college at 19, and become a teacher.

Evelyn Lewis: “We had subjects here that the public schools didn't have then. In the 10th grade, I had chemistry and French.”

Sager-Brown gave Evelyn a life of opportunities as the nation struggled with segregation.

Evelyn Lewis: “I didn’t feel all of that prejudice and all because of being here.”

The school closed in 1978. It became a distribution center for relief supplies after Hurricane Andrew battered Louisiana in 1992. It was almost like a resurrection that Sager-Brown was open again. Today, it is a depot for shipping disaster-relief supplies around the world.

Evelyn Lewis: “Now they are helping everybody, worldwide.”

Three generations of Evelyn Lewis’ family gained new opportunities here. Sager-Brown’s tradition of helping goes on, now reaching families far beyond this Louisiana bayou.


Sager Brown was founded in 1867 as a school and orphanage for African-American children in Louisiana. Now Sager Brown provides opportunities for volunteers to engage in hands-on mission work. You can support UMCOR Sager Brown through Advance #901515.

This video story was originally posted February 11, 2004.