Fifteenth Union: A Melungeon Gathering

Fifteenth Union: A Melungeon Gathering

Melungeon Heritage Association
Carolina Connections: Roots and Branches of Mixed Ancestry Communities
Warren Wilson College
Swannanoa, North Carolina
2011-07-14 through 2011-07-16

MHA is delighted to announce that this year our annual Union will be celebrated at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC, July 14-16, 2011. This will be our first Union in the Carolinas, states of primary significance to the history of mixed ancestry communities across America. Melungeon roots in the Carolinas have been prominent topics of discussion in past Unions, and MHA welcomes the opportunity to celebrate and study our heritage on this historic and beautiful campus. Warren Wilson College is located a few miles from Asheville in a scenic area near the highest mountains in the East. It has historic connections to the Melungeon community of Vardy, which the Union will celebrate.

We will have speakers on a wide variety of genealogical and historical topics. The program is still being developed, but two distinguished authors have agreed to discuss their new books at the Union. Each book breaks new ground in the literature of mixed ancestry in the United States.

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White (Penguin, 2011) tells three stories that will be especially meaningful to MHA readers. Author Daniel J. Sharfstein is an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University. Within a month of publication, his new book was acclaimed in the New York Times as “astonishingly detailed rendering of the variety and complexity of racial experience in an evolving national culture moving from slavery to segregation to civil rights.” This study of the Gibson, Spencer, and Wall families has the potential to change the national conversation about race, and MHA is honored by Mr. Sharfstein’s participation in 15th Union.

Lisa Alther is an acclaimed author of bestselling fiction whose most recent book was a nonfiction investigation of Melungeon ancestry entitled Kinfolks: Falling off the Family Tree. She returns to fiction with Washed in the Blood, forthcoming this fall from Mercer University Press. Alther’s new novel portrays the early history of the southern Appalachians. It tells the story of several generations of the Martin family, from the arrival of Diego Martin as a hog drover with a Spanish exploring party in the 16th century, describing his descendants’ struggles to survive and gain acceptance down through the early 20th century.  In this new novel, Alther connects Melungeon history to early settlement of the Southeastern US, and thus to the theme of 15th Union…

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