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You've seen them on the big screen. He's most well known for his celebrity status as actor producer and director but as the saying goes there's much more than meets the eye. Today you'll meet Danny Glover the international human rights activist who's taking on the enormous charge of championing the cause of making worldwide wrongs right. Joining me now is actor producer director and activist Danny Glover welcome. Thank you as an actor producer and director you have over 40 movies not just on your belt and people ignore that but they don't know the story about what happened on the train when your mother was taken with taking you and your little sister on the planet.
So start with let me tell you what really you know we're just talking about need to be going to be leaving here Washington and going to New York picking my grandson up who's 14 months old and bringing him back that's where my mother would always remind us of her experience with on the train with us. And my sister who is 15 months younger than I am I so and so we had this blue tag team going with my mother would one of them would run off down the aisle and I want to go chase him as soon as she got back with with with that person. The next would run back and I would run down the aisle. She put bags it was just tag team approach. I see my mother. They had plenty of exercise doing that but she was none the less said about it the other grandsons already were out I guarantee you I'll have to find a young public person on the plane to help help you out with your grandson. But your activism in a way started when you were a very young boy watching your parents trying to get into the area talk a
little bit about that. Well something something happened with the Cinci the desegregation of the federal workplace for African-Americans in this country and we would first time in jobs and at the post office and my parents were hired to work in the post office my father who had been a veteran of the war. My mother who had been a college graduate in the they were hired the post office and neatly they began to gaze. When the unit which now was changing because of the influx of African-Americans and the union and so with this influx of African-Americans I think the one level there was beginning some of the beginning of the politicalization at the same time as they became involved in the union. You had the emergence of the civil rights movement and the growth of the civil rights movement. And since Lee married the growth too is young people who are not only building a new life in San Francisco raising a family working but also becoming in tune to what
was happening around the country and the changing dynamics of African-Americans Vomica so that your activism is rooted in your upbringing with your parents. Where did that acting come from. At what point did you decide to choose a career as an actor. When I was late on life it is no reference of art or acting on the less drama in my life and to the kind of drama that has happened in my life and in my family but not certainly that and so that happened late on as as a student of the school state Coliseum in 1067 this so she has two divided community Baracoa. Two for semesters a lecture in a semester he began with what he called a community communication project which involved a dance who would truly music good news little drama almost 4 for 4 or 5 things when while this community or community can be a community communication project. Well what happened was
essentially that we all became involved in a number station in a black suit Union was we became involved in some sort of way. Most It was that that we were born to be on stage anyway so. So this is a perfect opportunity to you know to hit the board. So we did you know and and I I didn't think I was going to keep it up and I really didn't keep it up in the sense I was awarded the position of minister of culture for the BSU upon my first my first act in all the black organization and those that had ministers that facet of the Black Panther Party the minister the minister of education the midges minister self defense exhibit you know but I was the minister of culture of the BSU the Black Student Union and I was my then that meant meant that I had to become more engaged in what culture means and I don't think I at 21 years old I would ever was able to articulate what it meant. At that particular
point in time and I'm still trying to trick you and all of that now my almost 40 years later it is funny you should mention 1967 I was a freshman at McGill University in Montreal Canada. I remember the McGill players and I got the opportunity to play in the Dutchman which as you know was written by one of Mary Rocca says her amazing perilous happen in this life so for you there was never really a separation between activism and that one of the first of it I felt that when I when when the bee issue became involved in this extraordinary programme project which which brought us closer to the community because you bring someone like Mira Brock out to your campus. You know you could just draw people from the campus you will draw people from all of the beery And that's exactly what happened. So at the at the right at the apex of this at the beginning someone of the Black Arts Movement we become we make our own
contribution to it and I was fortunate enough to be out there as a student at that time to apply the very elementary skills that I had at that time. And certainly it moved on from one thing to the other but the key was that that I would did not distinguish between the work I was doing political work I was doing as a student activist and the work that I was doing as an artist or an actor. Well fast forward from the past to the future. You have founded a company called The Tour Productions. Yeah. And you need to tell our viewing audience a little bit about why you called it Lovato productions and about the first product project that overtook inductions Well they were. Well the first one I called it was great after the great liberator to something with your great deal as a name that we all should know in a probably a hundred years ago people can throw out the name
to live with your two sons is mission to song and we knew exactly who we were talking about. So we get it we get it. Example of the uses of history and the uses of information. So we been in some sense his name has been almost obliterated from the books that we often read about history. You had this extraordinary extraordinary man. Was someone we can say what the father of one of the patrons of the the Haitian revolution which accommodated in the formation of the first the first black republic in the western hemisphere it culminated in the first victory of Africans against slavery. This is what this did. It came on the behest of two important revolutions that we often hear about and often acknowledge the American Revolution and the French Revolution and all the tools both of those revolutions were impacted or both of those
countries were impacted and of effected by that. The Haitian revolution. So we're going to do a story about this extraordinary moment in history and it's an epic moment. Is that because of any film that we would see on the screen. But it's about a different kind of story people have been trying to do the story of to silo over to for years I go back to my memories of reading in Jet magazine that there was a controversy one time when Anthony Quinn had been selected to play the role of overkill. And black actors objected to him at the end to try to do the play the role of Christoph I've always Christakis you know he was and he was and they were upset about that of course because even though and frequent as a Hispanic as a Spanish descent that certainly that him plain Christophe would have been. Pretty pretty forfeits at the site of the tour the great Haitian elaborate on Christophe of course one of his colleagues Chris someone's got Christophe who was from Jamaica
just come from the Jamaica does a lean the other hero being a Haitian does Haitian and Tucson being Haitian. But you can understand the sensibilities of feelings of African-American actors and actresses who were happy that there's such a somebody could talk about a project like this project is a project that people have talked about from Eisenstein the great Russian director and Paul Robeson getting together to do such a project you know. But Anthony Quinn piece of the man and others want to pick up the mantle as well. People like Harry Belafonte city Porter Ozzie Davis wanted to pick up the mantle as well. It's a story that's been out there so if we do this story it's all in tribute. Part of the continuing battle to do not only this story but stories that empower people which Lovato productions will be doing so you've picked up the mantle of
doing the story of two sides of a tour but you're not going to starve yourself. You found another act that I thought it was I'm going to do what we can. Wonderful actor. And quite upright quite and quite appropriate with Tucson. And that's Wesley Snipes that's leased Snipes away and everybody you know is nice with stars to sign them. Was he familiar with the story. Absolutely. Wesley was familiar with that and the fact that he was for me with it meant that the road to journey to the story was something that was very short for him. And you're going to be shooting this in Southern Africa so that I was having a shot at Mozambique and South Africa you know bringing all of the Glover interesting together during this tour and just an average or your interest and your interest in drama. Your interest in telling the stories of the world overtop inductions gives you the ability to control all of the things you probably have wanted to control how much of your artistic life out of the question the Course is about whose story we want we want to talk about it breaks
down this very day to rocket science to rocket science to talk about story telling who's story and who is empowered by stories you know the business that I'm in uses that very effectively historically is used historically they've used it effectively about telling this story and in some sense in what they've done in some sense have abat embellish themselves or strengthen themselves by their ability to tell the story while diminishing and marginalizing other stories. So the question of when we talk about marginalization is marginalization happens in so many ways. Culturally it's we find that even in a world that is there we talk about globalization other cultures and other with other peoples the marginalized. And that's essentially what is happening continuously. The whole act of enslaving people don't like to be exploiting people and sometimes genocide is using genocide against them has been to marginalize it. You're able to do that because you moderate
marginalize who they are who they are as human beings and who they are culturally as well. Well let me make an analogy because it seems to me that the formation of the TransAfrica lobby in Washington D.C. represented yet another attempt to control our story the story of. Black people whether we were in Africa or in the diaspora and Randall Robinson put Trans Africa together. As an African and Caribbean lobby it was with the clear intention of saying we're in charge here. We're going to take control of our absolutely another level. So we see even even as we look at in the in the body how the body body politics is about whose story are we going to tow whose story is valid whose stories is secondary whose stories are primary and this is what trans Africa's done trans fat trans Africa say is by telling I was story. We empower people we empower people to change their conditions. We empower we empower people to transform the world we live in. And that's what this has to be about. And this is this is what Trans Africa is. It
represents but it also represents a legacy the legacy that comes from the Council on African affairs. Before that the beginning of the modern pan Africa's movement at the beginning of the 20th century. So we follow in the footsteps of Norma's giants who who led the way laid laid the groundwork for the work that we're doing now. And you have been doing a lot of that work through your work in theater and in film. Nevertheless you have taken on the additional task of becoming chairman of TransAfrica Forum. A lot of people wonder how the heck does he find time to do this. But as far as you are concerned this is just the commitment and obligation that you want to do. Well it's this is certainly I mean. You know it's hard to kind of explain it because you do. You do things be a passion if you feel you need to be done. But their passion is nearer to understanding clearly
from a dispassionate point point of view. How important is working is how important the work that that Brando has done has been to the African Well put in the work that Bill Fletcher and our current staff has is doing that's important to envisioning their vision a policy toward Africa which is just a just policy for the African world. So in that sense I'm supporting the work that so many people are doing if we're talking about partnerships and finding partnerships as TransAfrica Sam what do we find is two parties partnership and civil society. Where do we find it among Afro descendent groups in Latin America where we find it among labor groups and women's groups and in the kind of Africa whether they're in Nigeria South Africa wherever they are where we find to be and to begin to support their efforts support their efforts to build a just world for themselves. We can handle our role should be in some
sense. To make sure to ensure that the policy toward Africa is a just policy that the relationship that that that this country this administration sucess administrations have toward Africa is an is a relationship in which it is defined by respect and respect of their culture and respect of the humanity that is clear and that is what we have to do. That is an emotional thing that I'm very passionate. Part of what I believe but it's also something that I think is clearly need clearly needs to be done. And clearly needs to be done not only on behalf of them but on behalf of us as well because the problems that we see the problems that translate across from here are related to those problems that there is there and there's you know Africa and the diaspora as well. You're a citizen of the world you not only deal with issues having to do with Africans and people of African descent ever there was injustice and you have the opportunity to address that.
You tend to go there to address them but you also involved at the domestic policy level as well. I saw you demonstrating at the Republican Convention in New York last year. Why were you there. Well certainly I was there there to help do whatever I could to support a regime change. I was there to do what ever work I could do. To. First of all demonstrate that we were dissatisfied with not only this country's of this administration's foreign policy but the domestic policy as well. We were dissatisfied with with the way in which they had essentially use distortions and lies to go to war against a very weak country a weakened country weakened country of Iraq.
Those are the things that was the reason why I was out there and I wanted that to be heard loud and clear. Along with more than 300000 people also attend this rally. So this is the certainly the overall reason why I was out there. But I wanted to also in my actions also to a demonstration of my action to say to other people and the young people that you have to you have to allow your voice to be heard. You have to become a part of the body politics and part of and part of the political dynamic that's happening here. You have to organize as well. So the. The action is as true for the expression of my own my own feelings and my own ideas but also is also to one in which to get other people involved and people will wonder how does Gen Danny Glover see his activism and his consciousness reflected in the movie roles he chose as he chooses how on the one hand do we see it.
We see it in The Color Purple. How do we see it and leave the weapon how do you choose movies on the basis of your of your consciousness and how do you distinguish between movies you choose on the basis of your consciousness and movies that you say look this movie is paying me very very well and I can use this money to do something good. Yes. We know we are doing we are not. I'm an actor first of all and I can't lose sight of the sense that I'm an actor. It means that as an actor I try to tell a story and try to bring life to care a character that that in itself is an exercise I don't care for I'm doing Shakespeare of I'm doing a bang I'm up if I'm doing a movie Robin Bell if I'm doing a play about South Africa and the apartheid then this is involved essentially the same things. I don't try to justify what I do. I think I make the kind of choices that are informed choices the choices in
the sense that that they not only will when possible. Not always. Are you in a position where movies are going to pay you well when possible I'm compensated for my work. On the one hand the relationship between my getting paid a great deal of money for the film that I make and the possibility of that that film making a lot of different money in the marketplace is a is is real. You know that's a real dynamic. And I have I've accrued that that that leverage. I certainly in that sense been able to to to use that to to to do the things I need to do in life as well. So yes I make a living and I admit living is defined by somebody saying that somebody wants to go and see me and you know in a film you know that's what that's what they're living is the fiber as the only reason why they will play me. Because they're benevolent of anything because of that because of that. Now when that does stuff happening they don't pay me. It's a simple as that when they feel it that it stopped happening
when they can't they don't and don't feel that we created the. Created the image that that's a possibility. Then I stop him you know. So look the reality on the one hand that I choose films and I try to choose them so that I'm conscious of of the story in my relationship to the story whatever that is. They also have the opportunity to do films such as Grand Canyon the same afford Washington to sleep with anger about love as in that beloved lawless film which another way define or use a different format in terms of telling a story telling. You know we can look at lethal weapon and we can see various some value out of lethal weapon as a John Woo film purely action John buddy John or a film. There were some interesting things dynamics that happened different cultural dynamics that happened with that. Different dynamics in some sense. Why is a political political things that happen with that
whether it was with the South African consulate or the fact that you have a black family in this and a black family that has that has its own dynamic and own expression. So in that sense there are some things that happen even when you are able to take a job or a film. What we would call a franchise in this business and make something goes go beyond that. So I'm aware of that. And I'm aware of that and often I've been fortunate enough that it's not been difficult. They've been roles that I have not taken and they were right choices to make and had there been roles that I have taken that people may have a question about me taking those roles. But I thought it was the right do all the things you came to the real public attention by way of theatre in Master Harold and the boys. And since then there's been a long career that is still going on right now when you look at the whole body of work that you have done at this point. How would you like as an actor to be remembered. I then I try to be honest
that I tried to to use myself as a. As an instrument to till the say what is what is the most the best thing about us all and that is our humanity. Before you go a couple of guys asked me to ask you a couple of questions one of them was to talk a little bit about the great actor candidate. Well when I say that what they always say I love the saying that we stand on the shoulders of those who come before us and certainly it's apropos too to understand not only the important significant role they can and we play but other than just who come before us you know the actresses come because you can only in some sense filled like that you have this enormous talent Sidney never has the opportunity to to to soar you know and the history of
this country is that particularly people color like you. That it never has the opportunity to soar. Can't believe Paul Wilson all of them have made significant contributions to to to who we are today and who we are as as actors just as baseball players we for African-American baseball players often refer to those who came before them and especially the generation that that was the first generation to be privileged to play Major League Baseball. They had the people come in after Willie Mays and and the Hank Aaron's and all the beta Pence's in the brain rather that always make reference to the guys in the group leagues who never got a chance and never got an opportunity and then you know Glover will not let me go unless I tell you this if you'd like to know more about what TransAfrica Forum is doing in Washington D.C. You can go to the website w w w the TransAfrica Forum dot org.
That's w w w dot Africa for dot org and you can get details of what's going on at TransAfrica. For that it's over thank you very much for joining us. Good luck to. Be here they'd love to hear from you our viewers your thoughts and comments are important to us. Please send your correspondence to even exchange of Howard edu. Stay well tonight. Right.
Evening Exchange
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WHUT (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
Actor and activist Danny Glover discusses the influences in his life that led to his career and inspired him to advocacy. The arrival of Amiri Baraka to San Francisco State College as a guest lecturer in 1967 led to the participation of the Black Student Union in the Community Communication Project and Glover's exposure to stage acting at 21. He also discusses his production company, Louverture Films; inspired in name by Haitian liberator Toussaint L'Ouverture. Glover speaks about his role in the TransAfrica Forum in Washington, D.C. and the efforts to pursue intersectionality in policies concerning Africa and African-descendant groups by founder Randall Robinson.
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This record is part of the Film and Television section of the Soul of Black Identity special collection.
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Social Issues
Film and Television
Race and Ethnicity
Consumer Affairs and Advocacy
Copyright 2005 by Howard University Television
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Director: Ashby, Wally
Distributor: WHUT-TV
Editor: Pratt, Brian
Host: Nnamdi, Kojo
Interviewee: Glover, Danny
Producing Organization: WHUT
Production Unit: Robinson, Toni Y.
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WHUT-TV (Howard University Television)
Identifier: (unknown)
Format: Betacam: SP
Duration: 00:26:46
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