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Flat Rock, Georgia facts for kids

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Flat Rock is a historic African American community in DeKalb County, Georgia. It is located within the city of Lithonia, as well as the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Flat Rock is believed to be one of the oldest African American settlements in DeKalb County. In 1820, the area rested along the border of Creek and Cherokee Nation hunting grounds when it was settled during the Georgia Land Lottery. In 1865, after the end of the Civil War, the era of reconstruction provided opportunity for former slaves to stay in the area to build schools, churches, and civic organizations and create the tight knit African American Flat Rock Community. The community has continued to live in the area and have experienced the Black Codes, Jim Crow and the Great Migration. The area currently houses the Flat Rock Archives, which specialize in preserving African American rural history in Georgia.


The oldest known record of Flat Rock is found on an 1822 map. Flat Rock is not noted on any maps after 1865, likely because of the growing nearly town of Lithonia. The community continued to exist and was never incorporated. The community began as an African American settlement likely due to the surrounding slave-holding farms. After emancipation, former slaves had no means to move elsewhere. Some of the first families were the Bryant, Ford, Henderson, Holt, Reid and Waites families. The Flat Rock post office was the only government presence in the community until its closure in 1900. Flat Rock was the location of the area's first churches that welcomed both black and white members.

During the Great Migration, Flat Rock resident, T.A. Bryant Sr. saw the need to keep the community together by encouraging others to stay in Flat Rock. He purchased 45 acres for $600 and sold it in pieces to family members and others so they could stay in the area. In an interview for NPR, Henry Louis Gates stated that "[Bryant] was trying to give them a stake in the South, a reason to stay, 'cause they were not going to own property in Pittsburgh, Detroit or Cincinnati, in Philadelphia or New York."

Flat Rock remained isolated until the 1940s. Telephone and electricity lines reached the community during the War Years, but man roads remained unpaved even until the 1980s.

Flat Rock Archives

Flat Rock archives is located in the home built by T.A. Bryant Sr., donated by Reverend T.A. Bryant Jr. The archives were established as a museum and resource to genealogical and historic researchers as well as a heritage tourism site. In addition to preserving and cataloging artifacts, records, and oral histories related to the slaves, former slaves, and their descendants in the community, the Flat Rock Archive maintains the nearby Flat Rock Slave Cemetery as a part of their mission. The archive is currently open to the public every Tuesday, and tours are available with the archive's president, Johnny Waits.

Notable residents and descendants

Name Known for Association to the

Flat Rock Area

Lee Brown 59th Mayor of Houston, criminologist and businessman Direct descendant of early Gault family Flat Rock community members
Willie Gault NFL football player and track and field athlete Direct descendant of early Flat Rock community members Reece Gault and Agnes Waits (born a slave)
Warren Moon NFL and CFL football player Direct descendant of Early Flat Rock Methodist Church Trustee John Waits and Agnes Wise Waits
Chris Tucker Actor and stand-up comedian Direct descendant of early Flat Rock Methodist Church trustee Spencer Bryant
Ernest J Waits, Sr. 'Ernie' Civil Rights pioneer, first African-American DJ in Cincinnati, Ohio Direct descendant of Agnes Wise Waits
Robert E. Wooten, SR. Founded the Wooten Choral Ensemble in 1949 Direct descendant of Floral Waits and early Flat Rock Methodist Church trustee John Waits
Bobby Wooten Music Producer Direct descendant of Floral Waits and early Flat Rock Methodist Church trustee John Waits

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