Armando Fortune’s idea of Panama as a “sancocho“-a mixture of elements rather than a welding together- in contradistinction to the old oligarchy’s notion of Panama as a Crisol de las Razas – or a melting pot of races, seems somehow more accurate especially coming from a highly observant and eloquent Black man who lived the rigors of growing up black in Panama. Continue reading
From a 1950 promotional flyer, Dorothy Maynor appears in Panama
From another Westerman Concerts flyer, the contralto Carol Brice.
The great Paul Robeson as Emperor Jones.
While hits like Teresa Brewer’s “Music, Music, Music,” Fats Dominoe’s “Fat Man,” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone” were topping the popular music charts in the United States, Panama had become a new venue for classical concerts and other quality cultural events during the postwar years and into the early 1950’s. Continue reading
You have only to replace these Jim Crow
“White” or “Colored” Only signs with Gold or
Silver signs and they would be identical with
what it was like in The Panama Canal Zone.
It was a challenging time in the history of the Westindian Panamanian community when their youngsters were blatantly being denied an opportunity for an education. They would, as I’ve pointed out, receive additional and much needed support from other civic and political institutions as well. Continue reading
Above is a glimpse of the November 3, 1940
article in the Panama Tribune that describes
the passage of “Prohibited Immigrants” clause in the
New Constitution of 1941 despite the
protests of the WI community.
Most of my family’s behavior during those historic times was probably directly related to the Silver Men’s work environment. The Silver Labor movement in the year 1940 had not really gotten off the ground to organize and show a real strong united front after some 36 years of invested labor when my family was just trying to settle in their new home, Panama City. Continue reading
This is an image of 29-47 Mariano Arosemena Street
where my father and mother eventually came to settle in a
one room dwelling- the four of us- in the heart of Calidonia.
Our home is the downstairs unit, second to the
right-only one window.
My first experience with what Mr. George W. Westerman later called “The Westindian Problem“-a set of problems that I feel we all, directly or indirectly, encountered as Westindian people and were somehow related- would unfold at the tender age of four. It would prove to be an unforgettable morning in that same year of 1940 as my status as a member of the Green Family of Colon would end abruptly- too abruptly- at a time when I most needed my family’s love and care. Continue reading
At this point it is important to underline the tireless work of Pedro Rhodes, a young, well known and well versed lawyer from Colon who, together with George W. Westerman, initiated a challenge to the 1941 Constitution long before it became law in January of 1941. Continue reading