Tag Archives: Black-Americans

Communal Life in the “Black” Zone

Image shows an early Culebra “Silver” School (1905)
courtesy of Mr. George W. Westerman


Construction of the “
Big Ditch” once again became the priority project despite the feelings and attitudes of the white Americans. The “character set” of racist America, however, surfaced in the whole country of Panama. The Westindian* community, with their Black American counterparts, lived and somehow blossomed in the places set aside for them on the Black United States Canal Zone. Still being dug out where mountains once lay dormant, not a ship, as yet, had traveled the trench. Continue reading

1904 – The Gold and Silver Roll System

A 1904 Gold Dollar
Double Eagle, Liberty Head Design
Image thanks to www.wikipedia.com

By now you may be wondering at all my references to the Silver Roll and the Silver People. Established by the Canal authorities in 1904, the Gold and Silver Roll system, the imported version of “Jim Crow,” or the racially segregated system of the United States, became the foundation for Panama Canal Zone society and economy until it was phased out in the 1960’s. Continue reading

The First Diggers- The “Silver Roll”

Above we have an old “French Canal” image from 1886 of a West Indian excavation crew- Black diggers- in the Paso Obispo Cut. Image thanks to www.canalmuseum.com

The black employees or the “Silver Roll” labor force, as it was named from the beginning, constituted the bulk of the work force on the US Government’s Canal Zone and canal construction projects at any time in the history of those projects. In fact, it had been so since the inception of the works and into the creation of what would become known as the “Canal Zone” area of Panama. Continue reading