New DeKalb exhibit showcases one of Georgia’s oldest African-American communities

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The Flat Rock Archives exhibit is now open at the DeKalb History Center.

A new exhibit showcasing the history of Flat Rock, one of the oldest African-American communities in Georgia and a part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, is now open at the DeKalb History Center. Developed in partnership with the Flat Rock Archives, this exhibit displays artifacts gathered and preserved by the Archives from the 150+ years of the community’s existence. On display in the historic DeKalb County Courthouse, where African-Americans were once unwelcome, Deep Roots in DeKalb reveals a story of strength and ingenuity that continues to this day.

From the days of enslavement to its rise as a close-knit agricultural community, Flat Rock thrived because of the selflessness of its leaders and the communal bond of its citizens. Flat Rock’s history begins in the early 1800’s, when settlers and enslaved people populated former Muscogee land. Following the Civil War, some African-American families remained in the community of Flat Rock, working together to ensure success and safety in rural Georgia. One of the local leaders, T. A. Bryant, Sr., was pivotal in ensuring the successful development of this African-American community, purchasing and providing land to local families. Though dogged by marginalization and animosity, the people of Flat Rock flourished.

An opening reception was held on the evening of Feb. 28 at the DeKalb History Center. The Historic DeKalb Courthouse was packed with attendees for the opening of the two-year exhibit.

“Thank you all for coming to this Flat Rock history event,” said Vera Whitaker, co-founder of the Flat Rock Archives, said at the exhibit opening. “Flat Rock has really grown. We have no more cotton fields, we have no more farmlands there…but the Flat Rock Archive building is there,” she said. referring to the historic T. A. Bryant, Sr. house, where the Flat Rock Archives are now based. As the Archives continues its education and preservation work, the organization plans to use Deep Roots in DeKalb to raise awareness about this historically significant community right outside of Atlanta.

“The Flat Rock Archives will be at the DeKalb History Center once a month, starting in July,” said Johnny Waits, president and co-Founder of the Flat Rock Archives. “We’ll be educating people about various aspects of the community, including farming, the historic slave cemetery, and many other topics.” Details for the monthly educational events will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The exhibit at the DeKalb History Center will until February of 2021. Admission is free. History Center hours of operation are Mon-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Visitors can learn more at the DeKalb History Center website and the Flat Rock Archives website. Visitors can also schedule a tour of Flat Rock here.

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