Saturday, July 30, 2005

Not Bogeymen After All

From the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader of July 30, 2005:

Once a slur, now a source of pride

By Steve Ivey


FRANKFORT - When S.J. Arthur started tracing her lineage more than 20 years ago, a fellow researcher stammered as she noticed recurring family names.

Was she connected to a unique group of people known as Melungeons, the researcher timidly asked, afraid Arthur might slap her. The reference was once considered a racial slur.


The Melungeons have been described as a "tri-racial isolate," with a mixture of white, black and Native American ancestry. Others have claimed Portuguese and Turkish lineage.

Often, they had olive skin, black hair and blue eyes, setting them apart from Scotch-Irish settlers in their native Appalachia.

The group has been there for more than two centuries, enduring discrimination until recently.


Until the past 20 years or so, such a branch in the family tree might not have been welcomed.

Ill-behaved children in eastern Tennessee and western Virginia were told the Melungeons would come for them.


[Read the whole story]
To learn more, visit the Melungeon Heritage Association.

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