"We decided to save the school and use the school in a new capacity," James Joyner, a member of the Deacons and Stewards Association of Pulaski County, said.
A new vision is what Joyner and others have for the piece of history. The old Lumpkin Street School in Hawkinsville served as a center for education for African-Americans during segregation.
"These are schools that were built all over the South that were used to foster the separate but equal theory that was going on at the time," Joyner said.
In April, Carolina Panthers star Charles Johnson’s foundation issued a challenge. The Hawkinsville native put $25,000 and asked the community to match that, with efforts of revitalizing the building into a community center.
"It makes me feel so good to know that he’s doing this," Johnson’s mother, Jacqueline Kerney, said.
In a few months, the Deacons and Stewards Association of Pulaski County, with help from various organizations including the University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership, and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, raised the required money to start the project.
Officials say the $50,000 stabilization money will go toward repairing the roof and new windows. The next step is finding grant money to begin the renovation process.
Kerney says her family has ties to the old school and she’s proud her son is giving back to his community.
"History…what they’re doing is history. It goes a long ways back. My grandmother used to work and drive the bus," Kerney said.
Joyner adds there’s still fundraising that needs to be done, but now he’s happy a plan is in place.
"It will be a place that’s still filled with the same expectations of success that it had when it was a school. It will be filled with historical items about the community and the school as well," he said.
Joyner tells 41NBC the group plans to start the initial renovation as soon as possible.
He adds the Deacons and Stewards Association will apply for grant money at the start of next year to begin the community center project.