A Black couple living in Missouri saved a school Black students once attended during North America’s period of segregation.

Lincoln School, which should be considered a National Historic Landmark, was the educational institution Black children living in West Plains, located in the Ozark Mountains, were taught, Essence reported. After the Supreme Court passed its ruling in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education lawsuit, ending the separation of Black and white Americans in a school setting, the local school shut down. Nearly 70 years later, Crockett and Tonya Oaks III acquired the school from the city of West Plains and began to renovate the building into a community culture center.

This investment is dear to Oaks III because his father, Crockett Oaks Jr., is the last living graduate of Lincoln School who resides in the area. Oaks Jr. shared that his father, Crockett Oaks, was the first person in their family who migrated to the mid-west “in the 1920s from Arkansas.” He grew a special connection to the school during his childhood, which made him proud of the work his son was doing.

“I am so proud of my son’s ability to bring attention to this cause. His vision for this place will bring so much value to the community. Lincoln School is worthy of preservation, its rich history should continue to serve as a source of remembrance for all,” he said in an interview with Essence.

Since the inception of The Lincoln Project, community members have rallied behind the couple’s mission. The entrepreneurs believe their programming will help revitalize the community through diverse educational events that shed light on various topics of importance, especially racial inclusion. In addition, there are plans to invite knowledgeable guest speakers to elevate what visitors will experience when the center opens.

The work the pair is doing is not only keeping the monument standing tall but positively impacting residents by bridging the gap to help keep Black history relevant, which motivates Oaks III.

“#WeAreLincolnSchool, has proven to be an appropriate hashtag; the community’s response to our efforts has not been a disappointment,” Oaks III said. “This truly gives me the encouragement to invest my personal time and resources towards this project. It has taken on the form of a movement in our community.”