What's a "Melungeon?": The earliest dictionary definition we found was on the Funk & Wagnals published in 1893. "One of a very dark people living in the Mountains of Tennessee". It can be seen again on Page 1548 of another edition of the New Standard Dictionary of the English Language in 1913.Dr. Isaac K. Funk was the editor on November 23, 1893. We caution the reader to understand the definition of some one who was not black, but was not white either. Those days you were either black or white, therefore a very dark person means not being white and blonde. Portuguese Language Dictionary by Antonio Morais Silva and published in 1854 shows that Melungeon was a term used by the Changane tribe, a branch of the Zulus to describe a white person. The Portuguese visited the African East coast in 1498 and that's what they were called.

Portuguese Diplomat honored at the UN: Aristide de Sousa Mendes, was the Consul in the city of Bordeaux, France during World War II. He is credited by saving many thousands of lives, 30,000 or more and most of them Jews fleeing Hitler. He has been honored in Europe and now an exhibition is going to be held at the United Nations showing not only him but other Diplomats who also saved many lives by issuing passport visas, against the orders of their Governments. John Crisostomo and Antonio Rodrigues of New York, have been actively involved in this project as well as others, such as East Timor and Foz Coa pre-historic engravings.

Portuguese working for CNN: Vasco Nunes was recently hired by CNN to work for the Spanish division as a camera man. Vasco study in Madrid and is fluent in Spanish. Another Portuguese working there, is Pedro Pinto. He can be seen on the CNN program World Sport.

Patrick Andrade Toomey from Pennsylvania was elected to the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. Richard Pombo from California and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Senator) from Colorado were re-elected. They are all from the Republican Party. Toomey is the third Portuguese-American who presently serves in Washington.

New Bedford and Fall River: These two cities of New England of a very large Portuguese population from the Azores and Madeira Islands, were visited the past week end by two major Portuguese politicians. On Saturday Dr. Mota Amaral, past President of Azores and presently Vice-President of the Portuguese Parliament and on Sunday Dr. Alberto J. Jardim, President of the autonomous region of the Madeira Islands. More details, to be posted later.

Portuguese-Language author wins Nobel Prize: José Saramago, a Portuguese writer of many books that have been translated in more than 30 languages has won the Literature Nobel Prize. He is the best selling contemporary writer in Portugal. He is also a nonconformist in his regular radio and newspaper commentaries. His first novel "Terra do Pecado" (Country of Sin) was published in 1947. He was born in 1922.

Master of the Portuguese Guitar - Mariano Rego, originally from the Azores has just completed his latest CD. The Portuguese guitar is a very unique instrument, if anyone is interested visit the site http://www.indiepool.com/dismusica to find out how to order Mariano's CD with twelve Portuguese popular and well performed themes.

Toronto, Canada: The Federation of Portuguese-Canadian Businessmen and Professionals organized a forum to discuss the presence of the Portuguese in North-America since the 15th century. The author of the book "The Forgotten Portuguese" was the guest speaker. The question and answer period was a very active, allied to the surprise of many present of the facts related to the Portuguese making of America, made the evening a very enlightening and pleasant one. Also the existence of the Melungeons, was a surprise to quite a few. The author was interviewed by local magazines and CPTV productions.

Machado-Joseph Disease: A research nucleus was formed in Toronto, Canada to further the research of this disease that has afflicted many Portuguese as well as Melungeons. The name is called "The Friends of Machado-Joseph Disease Nucleus". For further information visit the web site: http://webhome.idirect.com/~albri. Machado-Joseph disease has been discovered in the USA in 1972. Recently the 30th Conference of the European for for Human Genetics was held in the city of Porto, Portugal. This disease has a large incidence among Portuguese from the Azores Islands as well as the Continent. The gene responsible for the disease was identified in 1994 and is now possible to detect it before birth. Some Melungeons are also known to carry this disease. In the Azores it affects 1 in a 100. The University of Porto in Portugal is developing a world data base for the Machado-Joseph Disease, anyone suffering from this disease may participate interested in participating, may contact the Nucleus in Toronto as described above. Also the Mediterranean Fever and Sarcoidosis are being studied by other Research Groups for possible connections. Information will be posted here as available.

Malacca Portuguese Eurasian Association's New Web site: This association formed out of Portuguese descendants, who married the local natives has just joined the Web World. Just like the Melungeons they also claim Portuguese ancestry dating back to 1511. Look for them at http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Paradise/9221/

Portuguese Connections in Hollywood: Julia Roberts played a Portuguese woman, Daisy Araujo in the movie Mystic Pizza. A song "Canção do Mar" Song of the Sea by singer Dulce Pontes is played in the movie Primal Fear with Richard Gere. Jodie Foster is also the actress on the movie "The Accused" where Portuguese were involved. Spencer Tracy won an Oscar in the 1937 movie "Captain Courageous" when it gave life to a Portuguese fisherman based on the novel by Rudyard Kippling. Tom Hanks is the great-grandson of the Portuguese Manuel Rosa and g.g.g.son of the Portuguese pioneers Francisco Gonçalves and Barbara Fraga.

Astronauts and Vasco da Gama: The Portuguese flag has been flown to space aboard the shuttle Discovery mission STS-91, maps of the discoveries by Vasco da Gama and a Portuguese scientific experiment, 500 years of other great voyages.

The Portuguese Government and our book: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Discoveries Committee has requested a copy of the book for further study of the Portuguese in America, including the Melungeons.

Brent Kennedy in the news:Associated Press has released a news article about the Mystery of the Melungeons and Dr. Kennedy's participation in trying to find a solution to the puzzle. The article was picked by several newspapers throughout the nation. In the Franklin area was published last June 7 by the Asheville Citizen. Also it was published in Toronto, Canada.

Southern Cultures Magazine: The issue in Volume 3, Number 4 of 1997, published an essay by John Shelton Reed, about the Melungeons and his personal experience while growing up in Kingsport, Tennessee. The following are a couple of paragraphs: "Many families here belong to a hundred or so Melungeon clans of Portuguese and American Indian descent..." ; " ...The Melungeons themselves always accepted the Indian part, but as for the rest they have consistently told outsiders what they told the Wall Street Journal reporter: that they are Portuguese, or as it used to be pronounced "Porty-gee".

Japanese Tourists prefer Portugal: Portugal along with France and Las Vegas, are the most popular destinations in 1998, according to a report releases by the Japanese Tourism Board.

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  • Updated:
    November 8, 2012