Melungeon Heritage group receives grant for gathering

Contributed To The Press • Updated Nov 30, 2016 at 5:52 PM

The Melungeon Heritage Association announced that it has received a grant from the Arts Fund of the East Tennessee Foundation. The grant will be used to present the next annual gathering of MHA in Morristown, Tennessee next June.

“We are very grateful to the East Tennessee Foundation,” says Scott Withrow, president of MHA. “This funding will allow us to present an outstanding and informative program next June.”

The Melungeons are a group of mixed ethnic ancestry first documented in northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia in the early 19th century. Most researchers have presumed the Melungeons originated in Virginia and the Carolinas during the colonial era from a mixture of European, African, and Native American forebears. Legend and folklore, however, have ascribed a variety of exotic possibilities for their origins. The Melungeon Heritage Association sponsors annual gatherings where researchers, many with Melungeon ancestry, share their findings about this group.

The East Tennessee Foundation is a public, nonprofit, community foundation created by and for the people of East Tennessee, where many donors join together for the betterment of the region. ETF is a collection of hundreds of individual charitable funds and supporting foundations established by individuals, families, businesses, and other nonprofits and foundations.

The Arts Fund of EFT awarded MHA $2,000 to cover the expenses of presenters at the next MHA gathering, scheduled for June 23 and 24, 2017, at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee. The theme of the gathering is “Melungeons and the Arts.” Melungeon characters have been depicted by numerous authors, and an outdoor drama about the Melungeons was staged in Hancock County, Tennessee – long considered the epicenter of the Melungeon population – from 1969 to 1976.

Speakers and presenters for next June’s gathering have yet to be determined, but more information will be available in the coming months, and will be announced through the media and on the MHA website at www.melungeon.org.

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