We are a community of people dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing the history, heritage, and culture of Black Appalachians, with particular focus on Lee County and Central Appalachia.
We collect, preserve, and share the life stories, history, contributions, culture, and heritage of Black people in far Southwest Virginia and the broader Appalachian region. AAACC also offers anti-racism workshops as well as diversity and inclusion training.
The Center offers tours, hosts student groups, and organizes anti-racism workshops. Please visit the Events page or click the arrow below to learn more about these and other upcoming events.
Ron Carson, AAACC Co-Founder and Director, named 2nd Vice Chair of the 400 Years of African-American History Commission.
On January 8, 2018 the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act was signed into law establishing a 15-member commission tasked with coordinating events to commemorate the 1619 arrival of the first 20 enslaved Africans in the English colonies.
The Appalachian African-American Cultural Center is an institution dedicated to the documentation and historical preservation of the experiences of Black people in Southwest Virginia and the wider Appalachian region. The Center is a rich archive of photographs, artifacts, and other items of cultural significance and historical interest. Founded in 1987 by Ron and Jill Carson, the AAACC is located within a historic one-room schoolhouse that served as Lee County’s only primary school for African American children from 1940 until 1965 when its doors were shuttered following state-mandated desegregation and consolidation.
In 1939 Ron Carson's great-great grandmother, Rachel Scott of Pennington Gap, sold the 2.6 acre parcel of land to Lee County for $750 in order to have the school constructed. When visitors step into this traditional one-room schoolhouse they are offered a glimpse into the history and culture of rural Appalachian life. According to Ron Carson, locals who visit the center are often surprised to spot a photograph of their parents or grandparents on the wall.
The Mission of the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center is to collect the narratives, artifacts, and ephemera of African-American life in Appalachia, and in doing so preserve the history, heritage, and culture of Black people in far Southwest Virginia and the broader Appalachian region. Through events such as the Annual Race Unity Day, AAACC also seeks to provide a forum to discuss and develop solutions to the long-standing ills of racial and social inequality and injustice.
Images Left: Rachel Scott (c.1940), Right: Jill and Ron Carson, AAACC (2019); Upper Right Insert: Old Schoolhouse Class Picture (c.1940)