The Melungeon Heritage Association will have a booth at the Cumberland Gap Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Days. The event takes place Friday, October 15th and Saturday, October 16th. If you want to attend or have questions about the event below is their website. Hope to see you there.
The Melungeon Voices podcast is back with all new guests for Season Two. The second season will be debuting on Friday, September 17th, 2021. If you have not listened to Season One, you can listen to it now, on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Google podcasts. Keep checking back here for further details.
Don’t forget, tomorrow starting at 9am, is the 25th Melungeon Heritage Association’s Virtual Union! To attend simply become a member here on our website under our Membership Application tab. We have a great line up of speakers this year, and below are their bios and what they’ll be presenting tomorrow.
Below is the speaker schedule for the MHA’s 25th Union, which is being held virtually this year. If you are interested in attending this year’s Union, then all you have to do is either become a member or if already a member, renew your membership here on our website under the MHA application tab.
25th Union Speaker Schedule:
9:00am- Welcome and Introduction
9:15am- Scott Dawson
10:30am- Dr. Arwin Smallwood
Break for Lunch
1:00pm- Dr. Marcus Nevius
2:15- Margo Lee Williams
3:30pm- Gabriel Greaves
4:45pm- Closing Statements
Here are this year’s speakers for the 25th MHA virtual Union on Saturday, June 26th from 9am to 5pm. Included our their pictures, biographies, and what they’ll be presenting at the Union. For more information on how to attend the virtual Union, check out the 25th MHA Virtual Union page/tab on our website. A schedule for the speakers will be posted closer to the date of the Union.
The 25th MHA Virtual Union date has been moved from Saturday June 19th to the following Saturday, June 26th. As the date draws nearer more details and links on how to register and attend the conference will be posted.
The Executive Committee has made the difficult decision to again postpone this year’s Union due to the uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19. We, as a committee, feel best to err on the side of caution, and are more concerned with everyone’s health and safety during this time. In place of the in person conference, we will be bringing back a second season of the Melungeon Voices podcast, as well as having a virtual Union through Zoom on Saturday, June 19th. More information and instructions for registration, etc… will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. If anyone has any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- By Scott Withrow:
- Dr. Brent Kennedy was a force—an outgoing and energetic person–who grew up in the small mountain town of Wise, Virginia. He attended Clinch Valley College and the University of Tennessee and gained a Ph. D. in Mass Communications. He worked in health care, non-profit fundraising and other fields, but it is through his Melungeon research that he became known to the world. His book, The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People, authored with his spouse Robyn and first published in 1996, made Brent the prime mover behind the recent revival of Melungeon identity. It all began when Brent’s research revealed that his family was Melungeon. His Melungeon Research Committee and the book spurred wide interest and was catalyst for much more.
- Out of this growing interest in Melungeons came meetings known from the beginning as “unions.” Brent and organizers of the First Union expected perhaps 50 attendees when they met in July 1997 at Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise). Surprising to everyone, the meeting in the picnic area turned into a three-day conference with close to 600 people attending! The unions continued under the leadership of Brent and others and continues today—the next meeting the 25th Melungeon Union, is planned for 2021. Thanks to Brent Kennedy and those early organizers, Melungeons gained a voice.
- The word Melungeon was no longer an epithet but a badge of honor. The story spread in ripples across the Internet and helped reveal the real melting-pot that is America. On December 17, 2005 Brent suffered a devastating stroke. The doctors didn’t think he would survive, but Robyn knew his determination and provided loving care for him over the years. Brent, voiceless and confined to a scooter, was as aware as ever, continuing to communicate by various devices and by computer. With Robyn’s assistance, he attended unions when he could, and many enjoyed being with him at the 22nd Union at Big Stone Gap in 2018 where he was awarded a plaque for his foundational role in Melungeon history and research and the Melungeon Heritage Association.
- Brent would tell you himself that he never claimed to be a historian, but, we know now that much of what he wrote was correct. Most importantly, he wrote from the heart and with courage, and he lived with courage. People may remember his charisma, his energy, his intuition, his generosity, and his dedication to Melungeon identity, but, for many, it was his courage that stands out—his courage to explore Melungeon identity and his courage to survive.
- His obituary says it best: “The world indeed has lost a beautiful soul. But Brent has fulfilled his commitment to leave this world in a better place than the way he found it. His legacy will certainly live on through all those he has touched. ” Due to the ongoing pandemic, a Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be scheduled at a later date. For the full obituary and arrangements go to the link below.
We want your feedback! We have put together a quick, simple, and easy survey for our Melungeon Voices podcast! We want to know how we did and what we can do next time to make it even better! To take the survey, click on this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZD3YTQQ
Episode Seven, the season finale episode of Melungeon Voices Podcast is now available! We wrap up the season with Wayne Winkler, Author, Public Radio Station Manager and former Melungeon Heritage Association President. Wayne discusses his book “Beyond the Sunset” about the Melungeon outdoor drama, Walk Toward the Sunset, and its significance on the Melungeon people back then, as well as today. You can listen now to our seventh and final episode as well as all the other episodes at the Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Google podcasts links below!
Apple Podcast/iTunes https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/melungeon-voices/id1517233900
Google Podcasts/Android https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8yNGQ1ODFlOC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw%3D%3D