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The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People Paperback – September 1, 1996
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Brent Kennedy is the prime mover behind the recent, and astonishing, revival of Melungeon identity. His determination to uncover and to understand his heritage makes for a fascinating story, which is still in the process of unfolding. But this is the book that started it all. -- John Shelton Reed, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
For fifty years, since I first heard the word "Melungeon" and visited their home-sties in the hills of Tennessee, I have been intrigued by the history, and mystery, of my distinctive neighbors. Plagued by two centuries of rumor, superstition, and deliberate misinformation about their origin and character, they were third-class citizens in an Appalachia already burdened by second-class stereotypes.
How welcome then is Brent Kennedy's scholarly and wide-ranging search for the truth behind the Melungeons' origin. It is a fascinating work carrying an implicit reminder of the worth and pride of every human being. -- Wilma Dykeman, Tennessee State Historian and author of The Tall Woman, Tennessee: A Bicentennial History, and The French Broad
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Top Customer Reviews
proved by growing archival evidence and, just as
importantly, new DNA research. The Melungeons do not
deny their multi-racial composition and, in fact,
have all races represented on their leadership Board
(MHA). But in addition to English, African, and
Native American, their long-standing claims of
Portuguese, Turkish, East Indian, and Jewish heritage
are finally being proved. As but one example, England
was clearly ridding itself of Ottomans, Gypsies and Jews
by sending them to America as indentured "English" settlers
and servants in the 1600s. It's unfortunate that
some people cannot grasp the reality that all humans
are a wide composite of many races and that to insist
on a simple three race component (tri-racial)
and to ridicule long-standing oral traditions on
origins - is both closed minded and indicative of a
lack of understanding of world population migrations.
Kennedy occasionally goes out on limbs that most scholars
would not, but more often than not he has been right.
His work teaches us that,in essence, no one is who they
think they are and this, I believe, is the first step
toward ending racism. I highly recommend his book
for those who genuinely seek truth and have no
political ax to grind. I applaud the fresh ground that
he has plowed.
Sami Ferliel, Ph.D.
Yuzuncu Yil University
The most celebrated of these peoples are the Melungeons of western Virgina, eastern Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee and this book is an attempt to write their history. I say "attempt" because until fairly recently, one did not describe oneself as a Melungeon or a Brass Ankle; these were perjorative terms used by outsiders and were strenously and sometimes violently objected to. Consequently, America is filled with people whose families moved around a lot, whose genealogies are muddled if they have one at all and whose family stories are non-existent. People like me(I've pretty much decided that I'm a member of one of these groups, although I have no definite idea which one).
According to Dr. Kennedy, the Melungeons may be the descendents of shipwrecked Spaniards, with Portuguese and even Turkish elements, who intermarried with Indians, escaped slaves and poorer whites. Indeed, when they were first encountered, they called themselves Portuguese even though they spoke English. As might be expected, documentation is sparse. Dr. Kennedy, a Melungeon, makes excellent use of his own family's history and genealogy. Some of his conclusions don't, it seems to me, seem completely warranted by what facts there are. But, all in all, this is fascinating book and an excellent beginning to in-depth research on these peoples. One can only hope that members of other such groups will follow Dr. Kennedy's lead. In the meantime, I cannot recommend this book too highly.
A downside is that he is quick to take scientists to task for their hesitancy about alternative views on Melungeon origins. He seems not to be aware that researchers, in ANY scientific field, need to exercise caution and cannot advocate new hypotheses without data. Meanwhile, he exercises no such caution about his ideas -- speculation on everything from lost colonies, to some really far-fetched word origins -- runs rampant. If not for this I'd give it 5 stars. That being said, this is a fun and fascinating book, and the author's enthusiasm really comes through; a great introduction to a fascinating people.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Again I bought this book as a follow on to a previous Melungeons book, for my wife. She loved it also.Published 5 months ago by alyieldi
Somewhere in the deepest region of my consciousness, the word “Melungeon” vaguely held place, but it wasn’t until my recent reading of The Melungeons, The Resurrection of a Proud... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Linda Lee Greene, author GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS; co author Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams
Loved this book. Was also glad I ordered a used book. It let me know how other people were interested in the same category.Published 17 months ago by Beth Wentz
Very interesting ,I never heard the name before,but interesting read.Published 18 months ago by Mary Emerson
This was written by a cousin of mine N. Brent Kennedy who has done extensive genealogy research in regards to Melungeons and how he came to find out about his family history. Read morePublished 20 months ago by BMP-RN
Dr. Kennedy has provided and invaluable source of information regarding the hard-to- find Melungeon ancestors. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Susie Graber
This isn't an academic, or scientific work. It's a collection of family stories and genealogy research by the author. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Kelly Cress