Tag Archives: The-Back-Punch

Solidarity from Our British Audience- The Windrush Foundation

The Windrush with a boatload of West Indian Immigrants headed for the United Kingdom.  Image thanks to The Windrush Foundation

The Windrush with a boatload of West Indian Immigrants headed for the United Kingdom. Image thanks to The Windrush Foundation

We found out just how far reaching our writings and the purpose behind our research and writings has been when we were contacted by a speaker for the Windrush Foundation from Britain, Mr. Vasco Stevenson.  He had been reading our web pages with great interest in view of the fact that he had to prepare a presentation for his organization to present in London’s City Hall.  When he came across  our contributing poet, Louis Emanuel, he had to ask us for permission to use them in his presentation.

We had to publish this letter from Mr. Stenvenson feeding us back his thoughts and reactions and how the presentation went.  Once again, we are impressed with the power of the World Wide Web to reach out.  We also want to re-emphasize our vehement call for justice regarding the kinds of baneful and demoralizing practices inflicted on our ancestors such as “The Back Punch,” and the fact that thousands of the Silvermen and women were never paid their retirement and legitimate worker’s benefits by the American Canal Commission. 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