Finding my direction and charting a new journey in Appalachia

CaptureThis past weekend, I participated in the fourth “Tales of the Cumberlands” event held at Breaks Interstate Park in Dickenson County, VA and on the Kentucky border.

I was asked last year to participate but had to pull out due to other obligations but this year, the event organizer, Stevie Conley asked me to try again and present a informational session on my direct line, great-great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Mullins or better known as “Brandy Jack”, a famed counterfeiter from the late 19th Century from Appalachia.

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Roots in Appalachia

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My Mullins family connection from L-R: Andrew Jackson Mullins, my great-great grandfather, David A.J. Mullins, my great grandfather, James Russell Mullins, my grandfather and Roscoe Mullins, my father.

When I started “Appalachian Chained”, I stepped outside my comfort zone.

I internalized a lot of issues, many of them dealing with Appalachia and life until after encouragement from friends and family, I decided to start putting them down online in the blog.

It hasn’t been easy writing the blog.  I’ve had to carefully choose subjects, sometimes I have ranted, other times, I have tried to combine my love for history, Appalachia and other interests together into the blog.

But this weekend, I’m getting ready to step outside my comfort zone once again, this time to speak on the life and times of my great-great grandfather and his place in Appalachian/Cumberland culture along with such names as “Devil John Wright, Doc Taylor, “The Red Fox of the Cumberlands”, The Melungeons, and much more.

And once again, I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew on these roots in Appalachia.

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Helping is just our way here in Appalachia

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For the last two weeks, the weather has certainly been in the news.  Hurricane Harvey hit coastal Texas and precipitation totals of over 50 inches of rain have inundated Houston and other parts of the Lone Star state.

Now, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Florida coast and has been recorded by some as the strongest Category Five hurricane on record and could affect our weather in Appalachia.

Despite feeling sometimes as the outcast of the United States, that mountain section of the country filled with “Bible thumpin’, gun totin’, redneck hillbillies” as we are referred to sometimes, has pitched in to help and most if not all without asking for a thing in return.

Just to meet the need.

Crews have left the Mountain Empire from where I live, taking on the responsibility of helping families in Texas devastated by the flooding of Harvey while some have left for Florida in preparation for what Irma might deliver by this weekend.

Despite the reputation and the perceived notion that we are “ignorants” in the mountains, we do have a heart; and a very big one at that. We take the criticism of where we are from, those preconceived notions of Appalachia, our talk and more, and drop what we are doing to go and help someone in need.

It’s just our way.

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Hoping for a miracle in Appalachia

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It was easy writing this in the beginning but after an e-mail I received later while composing this, it became harder to finish.

I keep hoping for a miracle here in Appalachia.

A miracle sort of like a George Bailey type miracle in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It’s a miracle that I hope for personally and professionally.

You know the miracle. The one that leaves you crying more than one tear and has the little moral of the story at the end of the miracle, like Zuzu telling George and Mary that every time a bell rings, an angel gets their wings.

Personally, I’m looking for a Zuzu moment. A moment that I can say, I finally won the war but know that I have to continue to battle to stay atop of my game. I want to look upward and say “Thank you, God” instead of dropping my head and wondering what I didn’t do to get to that point. After a time, you feel like you can’t take much more.

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What does Charlottesville have to do with NASCAR and Appalachia?

img_20170602_113802.jpgWhen I am not writing posts for the blog “Appalachian Chained”, I am usually covering news and sports stories of interest as a freelance multimedia journalist. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to cover the big extravaganza known as the Night Races at Bristol on Friday and Saturday nights.

I’m there with my camera in hand taking photos of the cars in action, photos of the drivers and recording video of interviews all to put together in some multimedia form for a client or report about the events on my own.

This past weekend, I was covering the race weekend for a good friend and his online publication in Waynesboro, VA. We met online years ago and finally got to meet face to face back in March of 2017. He gave me the opportunity to cover the events at Bristol Motor Speedway for his publication and also to give me the chance to get back into the swing of reporting.

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For some Appalachians, we’ve been in a bad mood for a long, long time

2015-09-14-1442219413-4801290-Closeup_of_protesters_at_Ginowan_protests_20091108Getting your feelings hurt in this day and age, is a very complex and sensitive subject.

In the days of old, you just puffed up, stuck your lip out and pouted about it until it got someone’s attention. These days, you have a blog, Twitter or you go out, protest, tear down a few statues, spit in someone’s face, wave a flag in the air, punch someone in the face, yell racial epithets at someone or worse, kill someone and then tell the public or the media that you were made that way because of society.

There are things I don’t like in this world, but that doesn’t give me the right to go and make a total ass of myself, go out and kill someone and in the name of what I am protesting about and say society made me that way.

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