Clark, Kenneth Bancroft
- Lara Putnam
was born in Panama on 14 July 1914 to parents of British Caribbean ancestry. Their families, like so many others, had been drawn to the isthmus by the economic dynamism surrounding the construction of the Panama Canal (1904–1914). Clark’s mother, Miriam Hanson, was born in Jamaica and reached Panama around 1904 at the age of 6; her mother sold baked goods there, while her father labored on the Canal. Clark’s father, Arthur Bancroft Clark, was born in Costa Rica to Jamaican immigrant parents and moved to Panama as an adult. They married when Miriam was only 16. Kenneth’s birth in 1914 was followed by that of his sister Beulah in 1917.
The difference between the racial formation Clark experienced in Panama and that he would later encounter in Harlem was prominent in his recollections of early childhood In British West Indian Panama blackness was the norm so ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography.