Tag Archives: Jim-Crow-in-the-Panama-Canal-Zone

White Gold, W.B. Garvey’s Jewel


With Christmas around the corner, we wanted to give W.B. Garvey’s remarkable new novel the review it truly deserves especially for those of you who are looking to treat yourselves, or those important people on your holiday gift list, to a literary feast. Continue reading

A Labor Historian’s Insight Into the Building of the Panama Canal

The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal

by Lydia M. Reid

Julie Greene, Labor Historian and author at University of Maryland, has recently synthesized the history of American expansion through the completion and operation of the Panama Canal in her excellent analysis:

The Canal Builders: Making America’s Empire at the Panama Canal

It is an exceptional read and we took the liberty of reprinting the synopsis of her book below from the pages of the AFL-CIO web site entitled Lessons from the Panama Canal.  Our thanks to them. Continue reading

The “Back Punch”

The spinal tap as requirement for processing their retirement papers became known in Panama by the Black Westindians as "The Back Punch."

by Lydia M. Reid

Of the many practices carried out by the Panama Canal Zone administration in regards to the men of the Silver Roll probably one of the most questionable and the least investigated is the notorious “Back Punch.”  It consisted of requiring the black Westindian men approaching retirement age- or 25 year service- to sign a release or consent form as, basically, a condition to processing their retirement applications from the Panama Canal Zone and submit to a dangerous spinal tap.  It was one of these back-door types of policies that in no way was supposed to be “required” of the black workers but that in order for them to receive their long awaited pension, this medical procedure had to be “agreed to.” Continue reading