More on the free black population of the Southern Appalachian mountains: speculations on the North African connection.

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Allen, S.D. “More on the free black population of the Southern Appalachian mountains: speculations on the North African connection.” Journal of Black Studies 25.6 (July 1995): 651-671.


The emphasis of the article is the free Black family group Mize, who appear within the Melungeon region (the four Southern Appalachian states of Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee).  The article uses “etymology of proper names to reveal 'Mize' as a possible derivation of an ancient cryptogram for 'Egyptian' and 'Melungeons' as a possible international reference to North and East African and Phoenician merchants” (p. 651). 

The article contains discussions of the Lumbee because various studies have identified the Lumbee as a source of the Indian ancestry in the Melungeons.  Allen cautions, however, that various writers (Susan M. Burnett, Calvin Beale, Will Allen Dromgoole, and Henry R. Price) have attested that the Melungeons themselves repudiate any Indian ancestry.  Most interestingly, Allen reports on a recent theory about the origins of the Melungeons that also bears on the Lumbee.  Studies by Ivan Van Sertima (They came before columbus, 1976), Hui-lin Lee (“Mu-lan-p'i: A Case for pre-Columbian Transatlantic travel by Arab Ships,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 23 (1961)), and Philip Snow (The star raft, 1988) discuss Arab and perhaps North African contact with an East African country and civilization - perhaps the present-day coast of Sudan - which they called Molin.  The country was inhabited by Black people.  Accounts of this contact made their way from the Arabs to the Chinese during the Sung Dynasty (10th-12th centuries A.D.) through various words and Chinese porcelain finds.  Through this evidence, it seems that the Africans visited the Appalachian region. 

States Allen, “The several Chinese accounts phonetically connect four names to the mysterious people of the Appalachian region -- Molin, or its people, Molins to Mullins; the Kunlun people, or Kunluns to Collins; the land of Mu-lan-p'i (the Americas), or its people Mu-lan-p'is, to Lumbees; and the largest ships, Mu-lan-chous, to Melungeons.... There seems to be phonologic, linguistic, geographical, and social consistency connecting Melungeon and Mu-lan-chou, and Lumbee and Mu-lan-p'i.”

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