Flat Rock Archives reopens museum dedicated to DeKalb’s oldest black community with new Exhibits

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Grand Re-Opening Flat Rock Archives, Feb. 26, 2022

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Football Great Warren Moon, Congressman Hank Johnson, local officials attend

 

 

 

STONECREST, GA– After a long hiatus due to COVID-19 and necessary repairs, the Flat Rock Archives Museum, located in the City of Stonecrest, has reopened with new exhibits and a renovated building.

The Flat Rock Archives chronicles the history one of Georgia’s oldest Black communities, Flat Rock, as well as the life of Black Americans in the rural South in general.

Tours of the museum and surrounding historic sites, including the plantation home where the Flat Rock ancestors were enslaved, are also available.

The Flat Rock Archives celebrated the reopening on Feb. 26.  Flat Rock descendant and football great Warren Moon was among those who attended the celebration. Patsy Moon, Warren’s mother and a member of the Flat Rock community, could not attend due to health reasons, so event organizers called her partway through the event. She spoke to the gathering via speakerphone and received a round of applause.

Other speakers at the event included Congressman Hank Johnson (Georgia’s 4th Congressional District), Stonecrest City Councilmembers Mayor Pro Tem George Turner (District 4), Jazzmin Cobble (District 3) and Tammy Grimes (District 5) also attended the event, along with and members of the Flat Rock Archives board and staff. All of the speakers highlighted the importance of Flat Rock’s history and the value of this historic site in telling America’s story

The Flat Rock Archives is located in the historic home of T. A. Bryant, Sr., one of the first Blacks in DeKalb County to own land. Bryant’s land ownership is a central part of the history of the Flat Rock community: as he aged, Bryant sold and leased portions of his land off to other community members. That gave people a literal stake in the South and made sure that this close-knit community stayed together in the face of Jim Crow.

Over the past several years, the Flat Rock Archives and the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance (AMHAA), the nonprofit management entity of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, oversaw significant renovations to the structure in order to maintain its structural integrity. The renovations included restoring some historic features and creating new space for exhibits. Those renovations, and the subsequent installation of exhibits chronicling Black life in Flat Rock and throughout the rural South, began in 2020 and were completed in February 2022.

“The new exhibits really give you a sense of the history and the power of the Flat Rock story,” said AMHAA Executive Director Revonda Cosby. “We are so excited for people to come explore, visit and discover this important African-American community.”

“As the new Board President of the Flat Rock Archives, I am excited about the future of our organization, along with continuing to explore and preserve the history of this community. I look forward to collaborating with the Executive Director, my fellow board members, and the staff of the Flat Rock Archives as we unveil more of what history has taught us and share this significant site with the rest of the world,” said Flat Rock Archives Board President Cheryl Mathis.

Along with celebrating the reopening of the museum, AMHAA Co-Founder Kelly Jordan announced the recent acquisition of three more acres surrounding the Flat Rock Archives. The Alliance was assisted by DeKalb County District 7 Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson and the expansion will ensure that the landscape surrounding the Flat Rock Archives remains undeveloped. This acquisition of land also opens up opportunities for the Archives and partners, in future years, to recreate the agricultural landscape that long defined the area.

For now, the Flat Rock Archives is excited to be reopening the museum to visitors and bringing Georgia’s Black history to more people.

“It was a wonderful event…The Archives is officially open now, and it’s open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and by appointment on any other day,” said Johnny Waits, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Flat Rock Archives. “It feels great to have the Archives open to the public again…We are the only Black museum in DeKalb County, and we are proud of that.”

For more information, and to plan your own visit: flatrockarchives.com.

Story by Zack Loehle/Arabia Alliance
Photos by Kelly Jordan and Arabia Alliance

 

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