KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A musician who recently discovered his family’s history in the Smokies is sharing a new song inspired by Mingus Mill and the people who lived there.
The song, by Eric Mingus, will be performed in the Smokies during an unveiled ceremony for two new signs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The signs are a part of the park’s effort to share more about African American experiences in the Smokies.
The new signs, also called wayside, will be at Mingus Mill. One tells the story of the nearby Enloe Slave Cemetery, where several African Americans are interred and the other tells the story of legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus, Jr., and his family. The signs will be unveiled on Tuesday, May 23 at 10:30 a.m.
According to the park, Eric Mingus, Charles’s son, recently re-connected with his family’s history through the African American Experiences in the Smokies project. He is descended from Daniel Mingus, a formerly enslaved carpenter, and Clarinda Mingus, the daughter of Daniel’s enslaver.
“The new signs and the African American Experiences in the Smokies project are so important to tell the untold stories of Black people in the region,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “And we are honored to have Eric Mingus perform a new musical piece that connects with his own ancestors who lived here. His performance will also introduce and invite new audiences to explore the African American journey in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
Cash, Eric Mingus and others will share brief remarks starting at 10:30 a.m. near the Mingus Creek trailhead. Eric Mingus’s performance will begin at 10:50 a.m. Following this, Park Ranger Antoine Fletcher will lead a walking tour of the Enloe Slave Cemetery.
The African American Experiences in the Smokies works to document and share the untold stories of African Americans in and outside the Smokies. The Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains Association help fund the research into the historic presence and influence of African Americans in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
These two signs are part of five news signs being added to the park. The other signs will be at the Tremont Institute Center, Newfound Gap and Elkmont.