Ronny Crooner - Puente del Mundo Corazon del Universo
Celebration of Mes de la Etnia Negra Panamena --May 2019
105 Years of the Opening of the Panama Canal
Proud of My Heritage
Camilo Layne Sr.
Certified Educator - Houston, Texas
I am truly proud. Proud to be a Black West Indian man. Proud to be the great-grandchild of the Panama Canal Diggers. Proud to be from Pedro Miguel, Panama. A tiny area in the former Canal Zone section of Panama whose residents were an integral part of the village that cradled and nurtured me along with an entire generation of Afro-Panamanians. Eventually immigration was our only recourse to the States due to racism and lack of opportunities.
Those individuals from the Canal Zone carved a trail of educational excellence for me to follow. Believe me, I have huge shoes to fill! Sadly, the more I continue to live in the U.S., the more I witness the moral and academic decline of this country. Although not perfect, I am thankful for my upbringing. Thankful for being raised in a Panamanian household, but more importantly, thankful for a familial system that cultivated my educational and moral foundation.
So many in this world that are falling through the cracks, not because of unfortunate circumstances or environment, but rather, a defiant resistance to change, to education, to counsel.
Thank you to the Diggers, the Black Caribbean men who labored, sacrificed, and suffered from malaria and other mosquito borne diseases to construct a Canal for the benefit of wealthy European oligarchs.
Those men that were paid in silver dollars rather than in gold. Those men whose legacy and importance are being surreptitiously removed from the history books of Panama, and those whose blood was shed that I might continue their fight. The proud Zonians that are now doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, professors, and Harvard business graduates from whom I've learned so much. As Zonians, I pray we can maintain and pass on our rich culture and legacy to our children. I could never be more thankful. Today, and always, Canal Diggers of Panama, I salute you!