Rhythm Night Club April 23, 1940
NATCHEZ — The Natchez Business and Civic League honored several community members Friday night for their achievements in keeping black history alive, overcoming adversity and excellence in education.
Betty Washington Sago received the title of Woman of the Year, and her husband, Monroe Sago was named Man of the Year at the league’s annual awards banquet at the Natchez Convention Center.
The Sagos operate the Rhythm Night Club Memorial Museum that commemorates the 209 people who died in a fire at the dancehall on April 23, 1940.
Monroe and Betty Sago couldn’t bear to see an important part of Natchez’s history to be forgotten and their work in 2010 helped ensure the story of a generation would be told for years to come.
For years, the couple has owned the property where the Rhythm Night Club once sat. When Mrs. Sago began connecting with survivor of the tragic 1940 fire, which killed 209 people, she felt a pull to tell their story.
The couple began work constructing the museum to commemorate the fire’s victims, their families and the community that was so affected by the tragedy. “We had the property,” Mrs. Sago said. “Our decision was, if we don’t do anything about it, no one else will.” The Sagos began collecting newspaper clippings, photos and memorabilia from the time.
After a dedication and grand opening in 2010 the museum was officially open for tours.
The couple staffs the museum themselves from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
They collect donations at the door that will help cover operating costs and will fund scholarships to area students who write an essay on the fire.
Because the fire left many Natchez children without parents, Mrs. Sago hopes to raise enough money from tours to make regular donations to the Natchez Children’s home.
Content copyright 2019. Betty Sago. All rights reserved.
"Our decision was, if we don’t do anything about it, no one else will."
#5 St. Catherine Street
Natchez, MS 39120