Located at 230 N. Leona Street in Pennington Gap, Virginia, the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center, in its former life, was the Lee County Colored Elementary School. This one-room schoolhouse was the only primary school for Blacks in all of Lee County. The center’s mission, according to its website, involves “preserving the life stories, history, heritage, culture and events of African Americans in far Southwest Virginia”.
The existence and success of the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center is due to Ron and Jill Carson. The school was constructed in 1940 on land that Ron’s great-great grandmother, Rachel Scott, donated. Having moved to Pennington Gap circa 1900, she worked as a barber for White clientele. Saving and investing, Scott was able to obtain a great deal of wealth, including a nineteen-room home and three-hundred acres of land.