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Iraq. 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 isn't 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 know that but they don't know the story about what happened on the train when your mother was taken with you and your little sister. So I started talking about going to leaving here at Washington going to New York to get my grandson up to 14 months old and bring in a bag. My mother would always remind us of her experience with on the train with us. My sister who is 15 months younger than I myself. So we had this tag team going. My mother would when it 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. And I just you know I would run down the aisle she pulled back and there was this
tag team approach. I was sure my mother had plenty of exercise doing that but she was none the less said about it. Yeah grandsons go away you out I guarantee I 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 them to hear you talk a little bit about that. Well something something happened with the century 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 and they they were hired at the post office and really maybe gamey gaged. In 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 in the civil rights movement. And since Lee married their growth as young people were 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 so that your activism is rooted in your upbringing with your parents. Where did the acting come from. At what point did you decide to choose a career as an actor when I was late on life and there's no reference for art or acting on the lesson drama in my life for the cause. The drama that happened in my life and in my family but not certainly that and so that happened later on as as a student San Francisco State College I'm in 1067 associated student invited community Baracoa
two for a semester and a lecture in a semester he began with what he called a community communication project which involves dance who are truly music newsletter drama. Almost 4 for 4 or 5 things when while this community community can be a community communication project. Well what happened was initially bad we all became involved a member which I station in a black suit Union was we became involved in some sort of way. Most of us felt that we were born to be on stage anyway so. So this is a perfect opportunity to you know to hit the boards. So we did you know and I I didn't think I was going to keep it up and I really didn't keep it up since I was awarded the position of minister of culture for the BSU upon my first my first acting all the black organization though they had ministers after the fashion of the Black Panther Party and the minister there the minister
the minister of education the midges minister still defends accepting you know but I was the minister of culture for the BSU black student union and I was my then that meant meant that I had to become more engaged in what culture means I don't think I at 21 years old I remember when they would articulate what it meant at that particular point in time and I'm still trying to trick you late all of that now and my some almost 40 years later and it's funny you should mention 1967 I was a freshman at McGill University in Montreal Canada a member of the McGill players and I got the opportunity to play in the Dutchman which as you know was written by one of a myriad of Iraq go zones for 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 be issue became involved in this extraordinary power.
Program project which which brought us closer to the community because you bring someone like Mirabelle rock out to your campus. You know you can just draw people from the campus you will draw people from all over the Bay Area and that's exactly what happened. So at the at the at the right at the apex of this at the beginning someone of this 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 then 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 active. Well fast forward from the past to the future. You have founded a company called Hope of two productions. Yeah. And you need to tell our viewing audience a little bit about why you call that number to a production and about the
first product project an overtop inductions will do. Well the first one I call him the great after the great liberator to something with you. And a great deal is a name that we all should know in a probably a hundred years ago people can throw out the name to which you're to son says mission to son and we do 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 when we've 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 day the Haitian revolution which culminated 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 bills and both of those revolutions were impacted orbitals countries were impacted and affect affected by this. The Haitian revolution the. Going to do a story about the 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 but 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 over two and black actors objected to them at the end to try to do the play the role of Christoph I've always Christakis known as it was and he was and they were upset about that of course because even though an three Quinn is a Hispanic is Hispanic descent is certainly that him plain Christophe would have
been pretty pretty forfeits silent or the great Haitian liberate and Christoph of course one of his colleagues Chris someone who's kind of Christophe was from Jamaica so I've come from Jamaica. Does that mean the other euro being a Haitian does ation and Tucson being Haitian but you can understand the that the sensibility the feelings of African-American actors and actresses who were happy that that 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 pic of the man and others want to pick up the mantle as well. People like Harry Belafonte city port Ozzie Davis wanted to pick up the mantle as well. It's a story that's been out there so when 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 silo we're told but you're not going to starve yourself. You found another act it's time to send over to a wonderful actor. And quite upright quite is quite appropriate with Tucson. And that's Wesley Snipes that's lead Snipes I mean it's everybody is nice we're stars to Simon. Was he familiar with the story. Absolutely. Wesley was familiar with that and the fact that he was familiar with it meant that the road to journey to 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 child that Mozambique and South Africa you know bringing all of the global interest to gether you know during bitter enders than africa your interests and to sell your interest and drama your interest in telling the stories of the world over to a production gives you the ability to control
all of the things you probably have wanted to control how much of your artistic life of the question the Course is about whose story we want we want to talk about and break down this eery. It doesn't take a rocket science to rocket science to talk about story telling a story and who is empowered by stories you know the business that I'm in uses that very effectively historians use it. Historically they use it effectively about telling this story and in some sense in it what they've done in some sense and they have embellished themselves or strengthen themselves by the ability to tell the story while diminishing and marginalizing of the stories. So the question of what we talk about marginalization marginalization happens in so many ways culturally is we find that even in a world that is there we talk about globalisation other cultures and other which other people are marginalised and that's essentially what is happening continuously. The whole act of enslaving people all I could be exploiting people and it's sometimes genocide
is using genocide against them has been to marginalize them. You are able to do that because you want to 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. 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 were 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 of how the body politics is about whose story are we going to tow whose story is valid whose stories a secondary whose stories are primary and this is what Trans Africa has done trans fat trans Africa say by telling our 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 you know for Reznor Rebs the legacy they come from the Council on African affairs. Before that the beginning of the modern pan Africans movement at the beginning of the 20th century. So we follow in the footsteps Norma's giants 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 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 I. You know it it's hard to kind of explain because you do you do things out of a passion. If you feel you need to be done.
But that passion is nearer to understanding clearly from a dispassionate point point of view. How important is working is how important the work that bed Randal has done has been to the African Well put in the work that Bill Fletcher and our current staff is doing that's important to envisioning in vision a policy toward Africa which is just a just policy. But 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 some what do we find as to 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 on 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. But the relationship that bad that this country this these administrations successive ministrations 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's what we have to do that is an emotional attack. They knew that that's a very passionate part of what I believe but it's also something that I think it's clearly need clearly needs to be done and clearly has to be done. Now not only on behalf of you 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 that there is there and there is in 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 Africa. He said Wherever there was injustice and you have the opportunity to address it you tend to go there too aggressive 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 we're 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 this this country's of this administration's foreign policy but the domestic policy as well. We were dissatisfied with the way in which they had essentially. You 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 the more than 300000 people who 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 it and part of the political dynamic that's happening here. You have to organize as well so that the action is as true for the expression of my own. My own feelings and my own ideas but also is also one in which to get other people involved as well. And people will wonder how those 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 being made very very well and I can use this money to do something well. Yes. 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. That means that as an actor I try to tell a story and tried to bring life to care a character that that in itself is an exercise I don't care for I'm doing Shakespeare I'm doing a bang I'm up if I'm doing a movie about Mandela if I'm doing a play about South Africa and the apartheid then the sense 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 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 relationship between my getting paid a great deal of money. For the film to make and the possibility of that that film making a lot of different money in the marketplace is a it's 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 use that to to to do the things I need to do in life as well. So yes I make a living and that meant living is defined by somebody saying that to somebody want 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 don't play me. Because they're benevolent of him because of that because of that. Now when that does stops 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 don't feel that we created the. Created be the image that that's a possibility. Then I stop him you know. So the reality on the one hand that I choose films and I try to twosomes that I'm conscious of the story and my relationship to the story whatever that is. They often have the opportunity to do films such as Grand Canyon the saint of Fort Washington to sleep with anger of the buffalo medicine that beloved Nala film was another way define or use a different format in terms of telling storytelling 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 Ridd film it was an interesting thing dynamics it happened different cultural dynamics that happen there are different dynamics. In some sense was a political political things that happened 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 which we would call a franchise in this business and make something go beyond that. So I'm aware that. And I'm aware of that and often I've been fortunate that it's not been difficult. They've been roles that I have not taken and they were right choices to make and yet they've been roads that I have taken. People may have a question about me taking those rules but I thought it was the right dual duty. You came to the real public attention by way of theater 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.
Then I try to be honest that I tried to to use myself as a as an instrument too. 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 ask me to ask you a couple of questions one of them is to talk a little bit about the great actor candidate. Well when I say that they always say look the same we stand on the shoulders of those who come before us and certainly it's apropos to the understanding that only the important significant role that can we play but other than just to come because you know the actress is coming was cannily in some sense felt like that you have this enormous talents that never has is the opportunity to
to to soar. You know and the history of this country is that particularly people color like that it never has the opportunity to soar. KANDEL Paul Robeson all of them have made significant contributions to too 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 that they had the people come around after Willie Mays and and the. The Hank Aaron's and all the beta pencils in the brain Robinson always made reference to the guys in the newgroup leagues who never got a chance and never got an opportunity and then he did open up a 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 DC you can go to the website.
Evening Exchange
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Danny Glover
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Actor and activist Danny Glover discusses his life in social activism, both domestic from Civil Rights Movement to present, and internationally.
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Chicago: “Evening Exchange; 2508; Danny Glover,” WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
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APA: Evening Exchange; 2508; Danny Glover. Boston, MA: WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from