Palmore's blacksmith father left the family when he was a boy, so he was raised by his mother, a housecleaner, and grandmother, a former slave. He left home to attend Tuskegee Institute in the late 1930s and graduated in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture. He remained in school and earned a master's in agribusiness in 1943.
In 1944 Palmore moved to Northport and began teaching agriculture at the Tuscaloosa County Training School for Negroes. In 1958 he was hired to teach and coach basketball at Riverside High School. When Tuscaloosa County Schools were desegregated in 1963, Palmore was transferred to Tuscaloosa County High School. That same year he and his wife Bruce adopted a 7-year-old girl.
He continued to teach primarily agricultural subjects until he retired in 1982. His students consistently brought home prizes from agriculture competitions. He mentored his students and encouraged them to further their education, sometimes driving them to campus so they could enroll.
Palmore built his own lakehouse on Lake Tuscaloosa in 1973 and served on the board of deacons at First Baptist Church of Northport. He sat on the board of directors for the Maude L. Whatley Health Center and was active in the Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanians funded a scholarship named in his honor, and 1st Baptist's "Ernest Palmore Crusaders Choir" is also named for him.
- Smith, Jamon (March 4, 2010) "‘Old school’ Tuscaloosa County educator dead at 92." Tuscaloosa News