Dr. Mary McLeod-Bethune to become first African-American in Statuary Hall


The cover picture is from the first "Freshman" college in 2006 as students took their place in front of the iconic Dr. Bethune statue at the campus

Dr. Mary McLeod-Bethune’s legacy is historic.  The school she founded in Daytona Beach, FL is a proud HBCU (Historically Black College and University) campus.

Dr. Bethune will be the first African-American to have her statue in Statuary Hall which is located in the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.  Perhaps aided by the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement during last year’s worldwide reaction, Dr. Bethune’s statue will replace Confederate General Kirby Smith.

Interestingly the statue will be sculpted by Italian Master sculptor Nilda Comas. While her selection was already sealed, it brings some consternation among African-American sculptors who for years have developed an impressive tradition in preparing works of art.  Similar to the Dr. Martin Luther King memorial which was produced by a Chinese sculptor, once again they may feel shut out of lending their talents to such revered figures.

Nevertheless, this represents a great testament to the respect Dr. McLeod-Bethune garnered during her life’s work.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

editorial note: Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) has a great history particularly in Daytona Beach. The campus is two miles from the Atlantic seashore. More importantly it is located approximately one mile from Jackie Robinson stadium, which is where Robinson played as part of his brief minor league stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The venue is now part of the Chicago Cubs organization. For those who watched 42 featuring Chadwick Bosman, many scenes from Robinson’s time in Daytona Beach were near the campus. Our youngest son, Fred IV was a graduate of BCU.

Heading to Panama in the midst of COVID? What you need to know!


I just returned from one of my treks and had a layover in Panama.  You will appreciate the newly remodeled airport, among the many updated restaurants, stores and services it has several COVID testing stations. If you are traveling through Panama on your way to your final destination and you have documentation of NEGATIVE testing results from within 48 hours, and you do not plan on exiting the terminal testing in Panama IS NOT REQUIRED.


This article will cover COVID testing as well as information should you desire to go to Panama City.

If you wish to exit the terminal and perhaps take the 20-minute metro ride to Panama City YOU ARE REQUIRED TO TAKE A TEST AND THE RESULTS MUST BE NEGATIVE.

The process at Panama’s Tocumen airport is fairly simple.

  1.  Once you disembark from your air carrier you will notice COVID stations.
  2.  Staff will greet you and take your temperature.
  3. You will be directed to the station where they will inspect your passport, complete their paperwork and ask how you wish to handle the $50 payment (credit card).
  4. You will be directed to the other station where the technician will administer the PCR test through your nasal.
  5. You will be directed to the waiting area immediately adjacent the Covid station.
  6. In approximately 30, no more than 45 minutes staff will come out, call your name and hand your test results in a letter form.
  7. Assuming you are negative you are free to go through customs and exit the terminal.  also once you return back to the airport the same day there is no need for retesting.

Should you have any question or need tips please contact me separately because as simple as the process is you must prepare yourself with accurate information so that your ultimate trip meets your expectations and is successful.

Bienvenida a PANAMA!!!!     

For those wishing to head to PANAMA CITY using the Metro Rail.

Getting to Panama City is pretty easy. It is approximately 20-30 minutes from the airport. For some a taxi works so expect about $25. For trekkers like me on a budget, the Metro rail is perfect. You can pay for rides each way or simply get a Metro Day Pass for $5. You will see kiosk inside the terminal and staff will gladly assist you.

Next once you go through immigration simply exit the terminal and head RIGHT that leads you to the curb where you will see traffic. LOOK FOR ZONA 2 as that is the pick-up point for the Metro Bus.

The bus runs fairly quick but be sure to hop on the correct one. Look for the bus where the sign reads CORREDOR SUR – It is about 3-5 minutes from the terminal and is a transfer point where you can take local buses or hop on the metro rail. GO UPSTAIRS to the Metro Rail and take Panama City Metro Line 2.

The trains are clean and efficient. Enjoy your trek to Panama City. Please note, upon arrival back to the airport YOU WILL NEED TO GO THROUGH CUSTOMS, so give yourself enough time to catch your connecting flight.

Heading to CUBA in the midst of COVID? What you need to know!


The contents of this article are from actual experience but I am indebted to two contributors who helped make better sense of the process, R. Field and Juan Carlos


I just returned from the Caribbean’s largest country otherwise known as CUBA.  Unless you have a personality full of anxiety, skepticism, fear or other traits which lead to hesitant reactions, if going to Cuba is part of your upcoming plans, I would encourage you to pack your bags.  If you are a citizen of the US, the assumption is you already are part of the twelve approved categories to travel as published by the United States Treasury.

Covid is real.  From what I witnessed you must applaud the Cuban government for maintaining a disciplined approach to manage this pandemic.

My first recommendation is to check your air travel and see if the mandatory Cuba Covid insurance has been added?  If not no worries because as you check-in air travel staff ask you for the $30 fee.  It can only be paid with a credit card.

The process for entry into CUBA is fairly simple.

  1.  Once you disembark from your air carrier you are directed to your respective terminal.

 2. From there you will be directed to the line for your Covid screening.

 3. Staff will hand you a questionnaire which should be completed as you snake your way through the line.  It is pretty straight-forward and among other things ask where you will be staying.

4. As your turn nears, you will notice medical staff at the line who will inspect your form for completeness.

5. Once it is your turn, you will be directed to staff seated at tables.  They will inspect your form and assuming it is correct you will be handed a form which spells out what you must do because as soon as you depart the airport you must go to your designed casa or place you have indicated for mandatory quarantine.

VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU READ AND UNDERSTAND

6. The next station will be the Covid PCR test.  A technician will administer the test which includes both nasals being swabbed. 

7. Your next stop will be going through immigration – having your documents reviewed and having any personal items you brought on your flight for screening.

8. From there and just before you go to retrieve your luggage, your last Covid station will be staff administering a temperature check.

9. From there you grab your luggage, exit that area (unless you are a returning Cuban national DO NOT STAND IN THE WRONG LINE.   Typically, all you have is your luggage so you should be able to whisk through the exit.

10. Your final line is customs declaration and unless you have something bizarre you are passed for the official exit from the terminal.

AS YOU LOCATE YOUR RIDE, YOUR NEXT STOP MUST BE TO YOUR CASA.

 Quarantine is communicated to last from 24 hours to five days.

 If you are positive someone from the local clinic will usually contact you immediately. Do not be surprised if even after five days you have not been contacted.  Should that be your reality you should request from your host to contact their clinic or authorized Doctor to administer the second PCR test.  Once that test is completed, results are typically received within 24 hours.  If you are NEGATIVE you have successfully completed your Covid quarantine.

Should you have any question or need tips please contact me separately because as simple as the process is you must prepare yourself with accurate information so that your ultimate trip meets your expectations and is successful.

Bienvenida a CUBA!!!!  

As mentioned earlier, COVID is real and you will see the effects all over the country. But no fret as while there are some inconveniences you can still get around and enjoy your stay. Even before COVID the country was experiencing an economic downturn but you will not starve or otherwise be miserable. Like other parts of the world, many are out of work or seen their employment greatly modified. The key recommendation is to be smart and otherwise use commonsense.

One last tip to understand is due to economic hardships the government will be imposing targeted reforms. The biggest will be the elimination of the CUC starting January 1, 2021 (people will have a 180 window to purge themselves of this currency). My recommendation is TO NOT TRANSFER FUNDS AT THE AIRPORT or at your arrival. Find a legitimate source wherever you are heading and they will gladly assist you. In my case I traded US Dollars at a rate of 1.50:1 – what a deal!!!!! CUP’s will become the predominate currency and of course, like I, you can head to the local Cadeca and transfer CUC’s into CUP’s.

Bottom-line, the country is still bustling but not at the rate seen prior to COVID. And yes, as it relates to those from the United States the many people I ran into are encouraged of the upcoming change in the presidential administration.    

Hope this helps!

A couple of helpful links

COVID 19 Information

History is made – MLB adds Negro League Records


[This is a breaking story….more to follow]

You’ve heard it stated before…..”better late than never!!!!!” The Negro Leagues are celebrating their 100th Anniversary and there has been great interest from those who only read about them or saw limited footage. Today Major League Baseball (MLB) announced the records from the Negro Leagues will be consolidated into the officials records.

READ THE MLB RELEASE HERE

Larry Questad RIP


Olympian and great track and field athlete Larry Questad passed away on Nov. 1. 2020 at the age of 77. Some may not recall the name Questad but during his prime competition years he was known as “The fastest white man in the world.” Earlier this year I was doing some research on the Olympics and came across a documentary which focused on the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, specifically the Men’s 200 meter medal celebration where Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fist.

A part of the doc featured Questad’s reaction during the victory ceremony as he was perched in his seat at the stadium. He voiced being stunned and surprised at what he was watching as well as somewhat disappointed. Being from Utah he was not entrenched at the urban ills many in the black community experienced. He further mentioned great frustration with the Olympic coaching team for not allowing him be a part of the Men’s 4×100 relay because the coaching staff had decided to run “an all black team.” He assumed since lead runner Jim Hines was injured during one of the prelims, he would get selected as based on running times he was in the top four.

In life perspective is everything. Many like myself understood the protest, while those such as Larry saw it as something negative, if not disrespectful.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE HERE

After watching the doc I knew I had some homework to complete. As a sixteen year old High School student and a person who always loved track and field, as well as being on staff at the 1984 Olympic Games which granted me the opportunity to meet both Tommie Smith and John Carlos, all I could wonder is why I had never heard about Questad’s lament?

About two months ago I tried to contact Questad. To my amazement I made contact and was eventually directed to his wife; Elizabeth who agreed to set up a tele/interview with him. About a month later, I struck oil as Larry called and allowed me a brief interview.

He has an amazing story and I am so grateful for his family in allowing me to speak to him. I was not aware of any severe health issues other than he was planning a hip surgery.

I would encourage you to do a little research to discover his feats. Even though he finished sixth in that iconic 200 meter race in Mexico City, to this day he holds records which are still standing.

Rest In Peace – LARRY QUESTAD, A life well lived.

Review: With Drawn Arms


For many of us 2020 will be a year we were sheltered in place due to Covid. Since most of us have reduced going out we have watched a lot of TV.

“With Drawn Arms” was recently released and I saw the preview today. IT IS A MUST SEE. Not because you are a documentary nerd, a track and field affectionado or some type of revolutionary. The doc is about the great Tommie Smith and his world record breaking performance at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Smith was an exceptional athlete but many remember his powerful gesture along with teammate John Carlos as they stood on the victory stand in what has become international folklore.

Produced by Glenn Kaino it is moving and inspirational as you are invited to get to know Tommie through his narration of many personal moments.

The doc is a solid 10 and available on the STARZ network.

Cuban National Players in MLB – v2020


The Major League Baseball (MLB) season of 2020 will forever be remembered by the worldwide Covid pandemic. The season was adjusted so that all involved in the national pastime could be played in conditions deemed as safe as possible. MLB continued its international appeal although surprisingly the number of players as part of each team’s 40 player active roster, dropped by 3 from the previous year. Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest country and also known as a Latin powerhouse. For the 2020 season twenty-two players are part of MLB’s thirty team active rosters. Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest country and prides itself as a Latin baseball powerhouse and ranks in the top five around the globe. A key metric not openly discussed is the national team has lost some of its lustre through defections as stars lucky enough to be noticed by an MLB team gladly make the transition. Similarly to the Negro Leagues before Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier was its popularity. However once Robinson opened the door the rest is history as many wanted to see those “stars.” Thus the Negro Leagues “prime product” was diluted and eventually disappeared. Hopefully high level baseball in Cuba can be sustained.

One more point about this year’s lineup, two star studded players have experience in MLB but as of this writing are not officially on any teams roster.

Yoenis Cespedes & Yasiel Puig

Traveling inside Cuba


The country of Cuba has a better handle on the Covid-19 outbreak than most countries. However as of this posting one of the primary interstate bus systems is still not operating. Viazul operates across the country and is similar to Greyhound. I will need to verify if local buses are operating as Cuba will a little more than 11 million people only approximately one and one-half percent own a car. For the vast majority of people their primary mode of getting around is public transportation, taxis, hitching a ride, motorbikes, bicycles and walking.

Here is the official correspondence I received from Viazul headquarters.

viazul  < viazul@eon.cu >To:‘Fred Thomas’Thu, Oct 8 at 3:46 PM

Dear Customer:

Currently all services are suspended as a security measure against Covid-19. The restart of our service is subject to the epidemiological situation of the country, this process will be done in phases and our operations must begin in the third stage. When the ticket sales opening date is defined, you will be informed through social networks, the website and the press. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

attentively

       VIAZUL Reservation Center     

NATIONAL BUS COMPANY – CUBA

                   Email: viazul@eon.cu