TBT- It is not a throwback picture but a story. Here is my Tia Gloria at Chanel’s graduation from Howard University. During the ceremony I sat next to Tia Gloria. When we stood up to sing, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ I heard Tia singing the song with such clarity, strength and conviction. I was moved and amazed. I said, Tia, you know that song.
My 87 year old Tia Gloria, in her sweet melodic Caribbean voice, responded, ‘yes baby girl.’ I then sat and asked Tia Gloria the story.
Tia Gloria attended the famous Hector Connor’s Dunbar School in Colon, Panama. It was a school that taught English and Spanish. The Director of the school Hector Connor was an educator and a journalist.
The school held concerts, had special programs and a choral group. At this school they learned about culture, how to carry yourself and self- esteem.
Tia Gloria shared that one of the things she enjoyed was learning the Negro spirituals. That is where she learned ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ not just as a hymn but as the Black National Anthem.
In Tia’s soothing words, ‘good black people’ filled that space. She did not finish at this school. She was sent back to Constance Springs, Jamaica to the Immaculate Conception school. This is the same school that my Tia Norma later attended. Tia Gloria is our visual of grace, humility and loyalty. She is also our reality of that deep Caribbean story in Panama and of the time when our Colon was highly seen as the ‘Gold Coast.’
This short story has many uplifting moments. It is about my fabulous looking, graceful, amazing, Tia Gloria. It is about how deeply rooted in Black history Colon was and still is, in our hearts and minds. It is about making the connection to the US and the Black movement as we both sang the song with the same energy, same love, clarity and pride many years after Tia Gloria stood singing it in the loving streets of Colon. It is about raising our fist to say, we matter, Black Lives Matter.
Today our TB is the story of our Afro Caribbean Panamanian Pride.
Singing loud and clear, Black Proud and Panamanian.
peace and light,