Tag Archives: Panama-Silver-employees

“On Who’s Backs”

The following article was written by Fred Brooks, a member of our Facebook group Afro-Heritage of Panama.  We loved it as it embodies the same sense of urgency we feel about recognizing the contributions of our Silver People of Panama.  We thank Mr. Brooks for permitting us to reprint his essay here on our Chronicle.  Please read it and share with as many people as possible. Continue reading

In The Matter of Employment

Samuel H. Whyte President of the PCWIEA, the Panama Canal West Indian Employee Association.

Samuel H. Whyte
President of the PCWIEA, the Panama Canal West Indian Employee Association.


Edited by Lydia M. Reid

While the Silver workers and their families were entering the urban areas of the major cities in ever greater numbers and settling down as they adapted to their new found neighborhoods in the areas of Calidonia, Marañon, and the City of Colon and its Silver communities, there was a great deal happening within the ranks of the Westindian Silver employees. Their right to employment was being shaken to its very core- had been for decades- and several brave and perceptive leaders in the Silver community were not willing to remain silent while their human rights as citizens were being violated. Continue reading

If the Story be Told

An early Silver Payline in the Canal Zone
Image thanks to Afro-Panavisions

If not to anyone else, it has been proven to me that, without a doubt, the Silver Men absorbed most of the psychological damage of working in an oppressive segregated system and in a generally difficult work environment. The legendary Silver Men who comprised the vast majority of the Panama Canal Zone labor force earned the honor of being unique workmen- tough, versatile, resilient and loyal. Continue reading

A Widow and a Sack of Onions

My paternal grandmother, Fanny Elizabeth McKenly Reid.

Fanny Elizabeth Reid, my grandmother,
who was born in Jamaica and worked in the
Ancon Laundry for over 20 years.
In her interview she told us her side of the story.
My Aunts, Gwendolyn (left) and Berenice Reid,
the youngest and oldest, respectively, of Fanny Reid’s children.


As we’ve already established, the first two decades of the 20th century began a new era in Panamanian as well as world history with the monumental construction and the subsequent opening of the Great Waterway in 1914. We’ve also established the crucial role of the West Indians in this grand drama and how their role as players was not without an equally monumental price.  Continue reading