The Outdoor Activity Center (OAC) has not always had its home on 1442 Richland Road, but the 26 acres that surround it have always been protected by those who inhabited this land. The objective of the Green Place-keeping Oral History Project is to capture a timeline of the 26 acres of land stewarded by the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA). This timeline highlights the inhibitors of this land during different moments in history along with the historical context of the present. The ultimate goal of this timeline is to understand key points in the history of the Outdoor Activity Center.
Below is a timeline of this historic space that is split into three sections: Rooted in History, Rooted in Community Development, and Rooted in Environmental Activism. The Rooted in History section focuses on the time period from 1500-1800 when insidious people inhabited this space. The Rooted in Community Development focuses on the African American communities that have organized and settled on this land as their home. The Rooted in Environmental Activism focuses on the environmental organizations that have been at the Outdoor Activity Center since its establishment on Richland Road.
Original Inhabitants of Metro Atlanta
Before the arrival Europeans, the Musgocee/Creek Natives lived off of and stewarded this land through indigenous practices.
Relocation of Indigenous
Beginning with the Trail of Tears in 1821, the US Government forcibly relocated Muscogee Natives to present day Okalaohma. Then, The Indian Removal Bill of January 27, 1825 was passed and called for the removal of ALL Indian Tribes within the State of Georgia, in accordance with the Compact of 1802.
Birth of Grandfather Beech
The Grandfather Beech tree still stand tall at the Outdoor Activity and has its orgins that date back to before the 1864 Burning of Atlanta and 1864 Battle of Utoy Creek.
Treaty of New York
The 'Treaty of New York"' granted the Upper, Middle, and Lower Creek and Seminole nations the legal soveinty to protect and defend their land rights.
Systematic Isolation/Oppression of Muskogee
Following the Indian Removal Act in 1825 the Muskogee natives were not allowed to work or be hired by a white man; their hunting and fishing rights were taken away; their identity was taken away and their race was changed to “persons of color”.
Emancipation and Opportunity
The Empanicpation Proclamination declared that "that all persons held as slaves... are, and henceforward shall be free." This provided the opportunity for 'people of color' to live and organize for themselves from under the control of slave owners.
PHOTO: Lange, D., photographer. (1937) Ex-slave and wife who live in a decaying plantation house. Greene County, Georgia. United States Greene County Georgia, 1937. July. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017770452/.
Rooted in Community Development
Bush Mountain Community
Bush Mountain, one of the oldest Black Communities in Atlanta was founded in 1910, the same year Oakland City was annexed into the city of Atlanta.
The city of Atlanta gave funding was to the Bush Mountain community to create the Dimmock school. In the same year, white Oakland city residents lobied resulting in the closure of the school.
The first physical builidng was donated and placed on site at what is the present day the Hartnett Community Garden. The the school's name was later changed to Hardnett Elementry in the 1950's. Unforanetly, the school was closed in 1975.
Atlanta Black Crackers Baseball
The Atlanta Cubs baseball team was created by community members including students from Morris Brown College, Morehouse College, and other baseball players native to Atlanta. The Atlanta Cubs became The Black Crackers and were a part of Negro League. Because of segregation, the 'ball' field was created down the hill from the Hartnett School in the Bush Mountain Community. This was the only space they were safe and allowed to practice.
PHOTO: Atlanta Black Crackers before a game. Courtesy of Negro League Baseball Museum.
Bush Mountain School
In 1935 the Bush mountain community, lead by Rev William Franklin Harnett, began to offer local educational oppertunities at both the Ladd Street Methodist and West Oakland Baspitst Chruches to children of color that not available during this time.
Comer W Orr, a local grocer, to sell the land to the City of Atlanta so it could be used as a recreation center for Negro children was rejected by the city. He decided to keep the land and create a recreation facility with assistance from churches to support the park project. It was 40 year later that the city of Atlanta would dispurse $10,000 in emergency funds to rennovate what would become the Outdoor Activity Center.
Rooted in Environmental Activism & Stewardship
Birth of the Outdoor Activity Center
Former director of the activity center, Andy Johnson (1978), said West Atlanta needed a ‘center for the study of nature' thus the birth of the Outdoor Activity Center which was originally located at the building formerly housed by Atlanta Public School’s Hartnett Elementary School
Water Education for Teacher
The Water Education for Teacher (WET) was an adpot a stream program that provided volunteers with the traning to monitor and improve Protor Creeks located at the Outdoor Activity Center. This was achieved with the involvement of Bill Eisenhower, Andrew Fellers, Bruce, Morton, and Robin Chany.
Sustaining Urban Villages
Sustaining Urban Villages was an organization that promoted connecting with nature through teaching youth sustainable skills through ropes course and other outdoor workshops. This program was headed under the leadership of Breden Barclay.
Outdoor Activity Center was given a new home at 1442 Richland Road under the leadership of Eleane Hunter.
Utoy Creek Technical Advisory Council
The Utoy Creek Technical Advisory Council were community members who discussed and brought attention to envoirmental issues surrounding Utoy Creek water supply.These members advocated for improvemnts in water quality that directly affect lives of local community memebers.
West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
The West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA) was founded by community members interested in preserving underdeveloped land in West Atlanta. This organization began with the intent to stop a Waste Water Treatment Plant from entering a predominately African American Community. After this success, WAWA made it their mission to create a cleaner, greener, more sustainble West Atlanta.
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