Flat Rock history on display at DeKalb History Center

“Deep Roots in DeKalb: The Flat Rock Story of Resilience” which opens Feb. 28 at the DeKalb History Center, will be on display through February 2021.

Crossroads News

The exhibit “Deep Roots in DeKalb: The Flat Rock Story of Resilience” is on display at the DeKalb History Center in downtown Decatur through February 2021.

The exhibit’s Feb. 28 opening reception, which is free and open to the public, takes place from 6-8 p.m. at the Historic DeKalb Courthouse.

Flat Rock, founded in 1822, is one of the oldest African-American communities in Georgia. It is now a part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.

Deep Roots in DeKalb, created by the DeKalb History Center and the Flat Rock Archives, documents the people of Flat Rock and DeKalb County from the days of enslavement to its rise as a close-knit agricultural community.

Flat Rock Archives president and co-founder Johnny Waits (right) says he hopes the “Deep Roots in DeKalb” exhibit will fuel interest in black history in DeKalb.

 

The exhibit explores and documents in detail the community that has thrived as one of the oldest African-American slave resettlement areas in America.

Among the things that visitors will discover is that Flat Rock’s first post office was built in 1837, and that the community predates Lithonia, which was established in 1856.

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. The late T.A. Bryant Sr., one of its leaders, was pivotal in ensuring its successful development, purchasing and providing land to local families.

His son, the late Rev. T.A. Bryant Jr., Johnny Waits and Vera Whitaker co-founded the Flat Rock Archives in 2006. It is the only African-American archival facility in DeKalb County.  

The archives is located in the T.A. Bryant Sr. homestead, which was built in 1917 and includes a barn, smokehouse and outhouse.

Its preservation efforts earned local and national recognition when native son, actor Chris Tucker’s ancestry was researched and featured in the 2006 documentary series “African American Lives featuring Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.”

Waits, who is also the Flat Rock Archives president, said they are looking forward to people learning about DeKalb County’s African-American history through the exhibit.

“The exhibit will be up for two years, and we hope that we can draw more interest in black history in DeKalb County,”  Waits said.

The History Center is in the Historic Courthouse, at 101 East Court Square.