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Clifford J. Palacio Remembered

Clifford Palacio grew up in the village of Seine Bight, Belize, Central America. This is where Mr. Palacio learned about community outreach activities. He was in Standard VI when he began his training to become a teacher. He passed the Primary School Exam in 1946 where it was first introduced in the Belize school system. Bypassing the first Pupil-Teacher’s Exam, he sat and passed the second Pupil-Teacher’s Exam. He attended St. John’s College (SJC High School) as he furthered his studies in teaching. The young scholar became a fully qualified-teacher in 1954.

Mr. Palacio’s uncle Hipolito was his influence to enter the teaching profession being one of the many Garinagu who came out of the Village of Siene Bight. Many prominent teachers came out of this village which he left to work teaching in different villages all over Belize where he learned to speak the Spanish and Mayan languages. He was the principal and the only teacher at San Jose Palmar in Orange Walk District for the 1954-1955 school year. He fondly remembers it as a one-teacher-school, teaching from Infant I through Standard VI. From 1955 – 1957 school year, he was the principal at San Pedro Primary School; he was also the principal at Bullet Tree Falls from 1958 – 1965.

He migrated to the United States in 1970 and he came like many others to create a better financial future for himself and his family. The US became a place where he could teach young people about the culture of the Garifuna people though his many unselfish community activities. In 1999, he taught a free Garifuna class every Sunday at the “One Love Entertainment” store. He taught students of all ethnic backgrounds, the traditional language of the Garinagu.

For sixteen years, Mr. Palacio was an active member in the Garifuna Settlement Day Committee and for eight of those years, he was the president of this non-profit organization. Under his tenure as president, the group observed many firsts. He organized the first outdoor celebration with drummers, singers and dancers, first Garifuna mass, first choir, first organized Novena and Beluria in Los Angeles, first excursion from Belize and the presentation of Miss Garifuna to the Los Angeles City Council. He is proud of his professional and community achievement but he is most proud as the patriarch of the Palacio family.

Mr. Palacio was a board member for the Garífuna American Heritage Foundation United and he was also a teacher at the Clifford J. Palacio Garífuna Language & Culture Academy in Los Angeles.

The academy proudly served the community through education, forums, workshops and presentations since 2005. The Clifford J. Palacio Garifuna Language & Culture Academy of Los Angeles was a concept started by GAHFU. The school was established in 2005 and it was first held at Maabatuwa Cultural Center of Los Angeles. After Maabatuwa, GAHFU saw the need to establish a more permanent school where families could attend and learn. The purpose of this project was to preserve the Garifuna language spoken and written. The school was renamed the Clifford J. Palacio Language & Culture Academy in honor of Mr. Palacio for his lifelong dedication in teaching the Garifuna language and grammar to many generations. Mr. Palacio's legacy continues through the teachers at the Clifford J. Palacio Language & Culture Academy whom were all trained by him.

Sunrise: Tuesday 6 May 1930 Sunset: Wednesday 6 July 2022 in Los Angeles

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