Garifuna leaders: the struggle for Garifuna rights across the Americas


In this lesson plan, students will learn about the struggles of the Garifuna communities, including gentrification, displacement, political representation, and racial and gender discrimination, across the Americas. They will examine the historical, political, and social factors that shaped these struggles, and the role of important leaders in fighting for the rights of these communities. The students will read an article that highlight the struggles faced by the Garifuna in Honduras, New York (USA), Belize and Guatemala, and how leaders from the past (Thomas Vincent Ramos) and present (Miriam Miranda, Aida Lambert, Paul Joseph López Oro and Gloria Nunez) have advocated for their rights and fought for representation. They will also watch videos from an interview with Dr. Pablo Joseph López Oro which will examine each of these issues in detail.  

Student researchers: Khalilah Coombs, Udoka Meremetoh, Jay Nelson, Citlali Ramos, and Belkairys Taveras

Faculty Mentors: Prof. Van Havercome and Prof. Shruti Sharma

External Collaborators: Yolanda David and Nancy Medina

We would like to especially acknowledge Dr. Pablo Joseph López Oro for lending his expertise through his interview and creating the OERs for this project.

(L) Miriam Miranda by Rel-UITA is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On this page, you will find:

  1. Article: “Garifuna leaders: the struggle for Garifuna rights across the Americas”
  2. Interview: Discussing “Garifuna Land Rights in Honduras & Miriam Miranda”
  3. Interview: Discussing “Garifuna Identity & Afro-latinidad” 
  4. Interview: Discussing “NYC Garifuna representation, politics and the American Dream” 
  5. Interview: Discussing “Academia Based Activism” 
  6. Interview: Discussing “Afro-Latinidad, Identity & Social Media” 
  7. Interview: Discussing “Belize, Settlement Day & Thomas Vincent Ramos”
  8. Interview: Discussing “ Garifuna Womanhood & Activism” 
  9. Lesson plan: Garifuna leaders: the struggle for Garifuna rights across the Americas

The following article by BMCC’s student researchers Khalilah Coombs, Udoka Meremetoh, Jay Nelson, Citlali Ramos and Belakirys Taveras focuses on the role of community leaders as advocates for the rights of Garifuna communities residing in Honduras, New York (USA), Belize and Guatemala


In the following interview, BMCC’s student researcher Khalilah Coombs interviews Prof. Pablo Joseph López Oro on Garifuna land rights in Honduras and the role played by Miriam Miranda. “Land is the issue; land is the political terrain; it’s the landscape, it’s the struggle.” For centuries, Garifuna in Honduras have fought for their rights to land as well as recognition of indigeneity not granted to them as a result of anti-blackness. Land defenders like Miriam Miranda have continued to fight while faced with the disappearances and killings of fellow activists. There is so much complexity surrounding this topic including what is done in the name of survival. 

Discussing “Garifuna Land Rights in Honduras & Miriam Miranda”

Geography is a huge determining factor in how each Garifuna identifies. From parts of Central America to the Caribbean to cities in the US, there is a unique history that affects what parts or one ethnicity is affirmed. No matter where you are, Garifuna is Garifuna. But what leads to some placing that asterisk? The following video delves into this.

Discussing “Garifuna Identity & Afro-latinidad”

What has been promised through the ideas of the American dream and democracy? Is this truly attainable for the people of color and those who also happen to be immigrants? In the following segment, Professor López Oro speaks on what he calls the “democratic promise of inclusion” and how it informs the political objectives of NYC Garifuna community leaders.

Discussing “NYC Garifuna representation, politics and the American Dream”

In the following video, Professor López Oro reflects on the impact he has made with his work on the Garifuna culture. From his published articles to his collegiate classes to the talks he’s conducted at numerous universities throughout the country. He also speaks on the overall importance of activist based research. Bringing a much needed voice to an otherwise unreached audience. 

Discussing “Academia Based Activism”

In the following segment, we explore the impact of social media on Afro-latinidad as well as the anti-blackness that surrounds this discussion. Professor López Oro cites how the idea of mestizaje plays a great role in how people determine their identity.

Discussing “Afro-Latinidad, Identity & Social Media”

Belizean civil right activist Thomas Vincent Ramos was the main driving force behind establishing Settlement Day. This day commemorates the arrival of the biggest group of Garifuna to the country in 1823 and honors the culture, history and heritage of the people. In the next video, we discuss the importance of such a celebration as well as Belize’s contribution to Garifuna history. 

Discussing “Belize, Settlement Day & Thomas Vincent Ramos”

In our final segment below, we discuss Garifuna womanhood and activism. Garifuna women often lead the fight for recognition, rights and cultural preservation. But they are met with opposition, oppression and silencing not only from outside forces but also sexism/misogyny within the very community for which they fight. They still remain prominent and essential figures that need to be respected and honored, despite the reality. 

Discussing “ Garifuna Womanhood & Activism”

The following lesson plan presents learning outcomes and student activities based on the learning materials presented above.


This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.