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
Image is of our beautiful Kuna Yala paisanas.
By Lydia M. Reid
It is patently clear to any one of us who has lived on both sides of this hemisphere that there is glaring racial injustice in Latin America. The article about Pedro Rhodes accentuated the racial bigotry inherent amongst the Panamanian elites during those historic times. Nothing apparently has changed except that, more and more, the perpetrators of racial injustice now have a darker complexion and come from the poorer economic strata. And, God help us, should they acquire wealth! Continue reading
“Don” Pedro N. Rhodes,
well known Colon attorney and
tireless champion for the Westindian
people of Panama. Image was taken
from The Panama Tribune, on the occasion of his fifty third birthday.
Pedro N. Rhodes, distinguished Panamanian lawyer and well known Atlantic side politician was born in the City of Colon June 8, 1894. His early schooling at the age of six began at Christ Church School with S. T. Bailey as teacher. His elementary education completed, Mr. Rhodes attended St. Joseph College from where he was graduated with honors. 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
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
Original headquarters of the Panama America newspaper and its English edition, The Panama American. Image courtesy of EPASA
The Panama Tribune covered many stories of local or national interest that had great bearing on people’s lives. It became probably the most popular of the English Language newspapers for the black West Indian communities of both the Canal Zone and the terminal cities of Panama and Colon.
There was the article of October 20, 1946 that ran “Will Admit Students of Panama of ‘Restricted’ Class:” A new decree for groups classified as ‘Prohibited Immigrants’ by the administration of Don Enrique Jimenez. Children of this group between the ages of 15-30 years, who desire to further their education in secondary school, will be admitted to enter Panama. This is due to the U.N. Charter and Article 21 of the New Constitution (of 1946) opposed to racial discrimination.” In upcoming posts we will get into the intricacies of the Constitution of 1941, in particular, that turned native born children of Westindian descent into “prohibited immigrants.” Continue reading