MLK Day Service Project at Flat Rock

Staff Report

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

From 11am to 4pm on January 16, local volunteers from the Flat Rock Archive Inc, East Suburban Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill and team members from Arabia Mountain will work on community service projects at the Lyon Farm, Historic Flat Rock Cemetery, and the Flat Rock Archive Museum.

[Flat Rock Archive, Inc., 3956 Crossvale Rd., Stonecrest, GA, 11am until 4pm on January 16, 2023]

Flat Rock, is DeKalb County’s oldest African American Community, and is marking Martin Luther King Day this year with a day on, not off. The Flat Rock Archive, Inc. is joining forces with the East Suburban Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. for a special service project.

The organizations, their staff and families, board members, plus volunteers will perform clean up, gardening, restorative work and other duties at three important historic sites including Lyon Farm, Flat Rock Cemetery, and the Flat Rock Archive Museum.

“I am so excited about the partnership with the East Suburban Atlanta Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc., and also about fulfilling the educational part of our mission. The vision is to share in the educational history of the Flat Rock Community. I look forward to this event along with the long-term relationships that are being established with this organization. We also want to extend an invitation to the public to come and tour this historic Flat Rock Museum” says Cheryl Moore-Mathis, President of the archive museum, which chronicle the community of Flat Rock as well as the lives of African Americans in Georgia from the mid-19th century on.

Flat Rock, Inc. is partnered with the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance, which will have five team members volunteering for the event. “Flat Rock Archive and its partnership with Jack and Jill is the beginning of a true youth and family service model,” said Revonda Cosby, Executive Director of the AMNHA, which includes all these local sites. “Having conversations with these Jack and Jill high schoolers and their parents, it was obvious the baton of community service was passing from parent to child. I’ve seen how they work and the consistency of their work that Jack and Jillers make service a lifelong commitment.”Teen volunteers from East Suburban Atlanta’s Jack and Jill Chapter Inc., a family-centered organization with more than 260 chapters and over 50,000 members nationwide, will be lending a big helping hand to this service project. Started in 1938, Jack and Jill of America has been instrumental in the growth and preservation of Black communities for generations. In addition toyouth volunteers, the East Suburban Atlanta Chapter donated four picnic tables. “Our organization is rooted in service to our community,” said Dr. Sha’Ronda McRae, Chapter President of East Suburban Atlanta’s Jack and Jill chapter. “What better way than on a special day like Dr. Martin Luther King day for our chapter families to be together and be of service, while also learning about our history and our culture. I am thankful that this service opportunity will leave an impression on our children to change communities.”

For the Martin Luther King Day Service Project, volunteers will arrive by 9am at the Flat Rock Archive, and the day of community service will officially kick off under the tent promptly at 11:25am.

Participants will be led on a guided tour of the Old Flat Rock Church and Cemetery, and then to the Lyon Farm which is a former plantation where many members of Flat Rock were enslaved before emancipation. The slave quarters in the building’s basement is intact and visitable.

By 12:30, the entire group will head to the Flat Rock (Slave) Cemetery. The older project participants, parents and volunteers will stay and work on an hour-long clean-up of graves, marking debris, removing trash, mulching, and assembling a picnic table. All other project participants will return to the Flat Rock Archive Museum from 12:30 to 2pm for different age- appropriate service activities and projects, such as food pantry organizing, fence painting, gardening and mulching, and other responsibilities.

Immediately following the 11am program, the project participants will be led in the immersion experience room with an introduction and tour by Ms. Patricia Bryant, granddaughter of T. A. Bryant, Sr. who helped save the Flat Rock Community during The Great Migration.

“My father Rev. T. A. Bryant Jr. and my aunt Zella Bryant Guthrie donated their family home to the Flat Rock Archive, Inc. I believe they are both in heaven, rejoicing with the positive direction of their family home as a community museum. The desire of the Bryant family is to continue and carry forward the T. A. Bryant, Sr. legacy to future generations of his commitment and service to the Flat Rock community. The goal of the FRA is to continue serving the Flat Rock community for generations to come.”

From 2 to 3:30 pm, all will gather back under the tent at the museum to enjoy a fresh lunch prepared by an on-site chef. Jack and Jill senior youth leaders will provide an end-of-day summary on project ideas and goals, reflections, ending the evening with fun and games.