While attending San Francisco State University, Glover was a member of the Black Students Union who along with the Third World Liberation Front led the five month strike for Ethnic Studies. Not only did this create the first school of Ethnic Studies in the US, but it was also the longest student strike in the history of the United States.
Glover serves as a board member to numerous national and international organizations. He is presently chair of the TransAfrica Forum, “a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the general public–particularly African-Americans–on the economic, political and moral ramifications of US foreign policy as it affects Africa and the Diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America” and a board member of Cheryl Byron’s Something Positive Dance Group. In March 1998, he was appointed ambassador to the United Nations Development Programme.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: The Real News Network in New Orleans with Danny Glover. Danny had previously endorsed Senator Edwards for president. After Edwards pulled out, Danny endorsed, with some other well-known progressive figures in America, Senator Obama. Tomorrow is the vote in Indiana and in North Carolina, and we’re looking at very complicated steps towards the Democratic National Convention, which might see a Democratic Party bloodbath. Danny, what do you make of what might happen tomorrow? What’s at stake? And what do you think’s happening over the next couple of months?
DANNY GLOVER, ACTOR, DIRECTOR, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Well, I think we’re looking at a very difficult moment right here for the party itself, the Democratic Party. No matter how they come out of here, there seems to be no truce that’s available between the two leading candidates, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, that at the same time there’s been quite a bit of damage that’s been done within the primary itself, attacks particularly on Obama about specifically his minister, Rev. Wright. And information, often in a campaign, it will be used on the side of the Republicans had he been the candidate that won the primary and been the candidate that represented the Democratic Party. So when you see all of this happening right now, I think a great line from The Leopard, Burt Lancaster, where he said, “Things must change in order to remain the same.” And you think about the idea that there’s been so much talk about change and reference to change. And it was the only dialog or only phrase that was available to people. You see the devastation of the US economy, the fact that while we’re right now in the midst of this recession, deep recession, and that there’s still the primary issues around education, infrastructure, the issues around poverty, the issues around health care are still glaring at us. Then the question is: where’s the government going to put the resource and get the resources to fix or to alleviate some of those problems in the face of this massive buildup that they’ve had over the last five years in terms of Iran and Iraq, Sunni Iraq, and Afghanistan? So we find ourselves in some sort of very difficult, difficult moment, I think, in this country and also the world; while at the same time, at best, at best we have two candidates who are not in any way going to change the course of US foreign policy. There’s not going to be any dramatic change in that policy. The war will trickle on, and we’ll spend more money in rebuilding the Army, or whatever we may say; we’ll spend more money on our adventurism and exploitive adventurisms in other countries, you know, and attempts to destabilize those countries. That policy is going to be arrayed in force. The question becomes, for us as citizens here, citizens here and citizens around the world, is what can we do? How can we mobilize? And if so, can we mobilize effectively in terms of changing this direction?
JAY: You signed a letter endorsing, in a way, Obama. Why did you do that?
GLOVER: Well, I signed that letter endorsing Obama because I felt with Obama that there was a chance to build a movement around him—not around him, but adjacent to him. If his candidacy represented an extraordinary level of voter participation from young people and people who have been left out or marginalized by the electoral process, then perhaps his candidacy could be a window to which we can talk about movement building, and talk about movement building and [inaudible]. The mere fact that Obama’s presence in here has brought about a discussion, however we want to look at the discussion, about the Black church, it’s extraordinary. I mean, ministers like Jeremiah Wright and ministers who go do the work in their communities every single day, white and Black ministers are often unheard of in the public dialog, the national dialog. Now we get a glimpse of this Black church, and everybody’s saying what this Black church has always represented, historically represented, from the time of Bishop Allen and when he separated from the Methodist Church in 1795, all the way up through the abolitionist movement, all the way up to the movements for the end of slavery, through the movements to end the Jim Crow, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, not only here, in movements here, but on movements around the world, particularly the anti-apartheid movement. The Black church has been center in that and advocating often the most radical precepts around religions. So we hear it at this particular point, but you never had that discussion about the Black church before. And so people are saying, “Am I living with this? This is what I’ve been seeing? I’ve been living amidst this, these preachers who’ve been for the most part have had a doctrine in which they had another way in which they’d preach to their people?”
JAY: Well, the whole politics of African-Americans is not on the same planet. It’s not on media. It’s a conversation or a debate that never gets talked about, unless you see the odd African-American pundit who joins the white conversation.
GLOVER: Absolutely. Now you have a discussion about that. And whether that discussion is bringing people to a new realization of the depth of the problem, or whether that’s alienating them from the process, and looking for, like we always look out of fear, we look to some sort of scapegoat.
JAY: They’ve been able to label Wright and by inference Obama with the word, which is “unpatriotic.” And, in fact, they’ve used that perhaps even more than the race card, the issue that he’s simply not patriotic.
GLOVER: Well, I think in association with that, of course, you know, that becomes the idea. You have to make a simple connection to the fact that he’s unpatriotic as part of the demonization. And that becomes the end card, the end game with that, that people trust his patriotism. But the fact is that if we’re talking about patriotism in that very narrow precept, that very narrow concept or context, certainly we offer that. [inaudible] We’re talking about speaking truth, and speaking the truth what that experience has been and continues to be, then certainly we’re unpatriotic in that sense by the mere fact that we talk about it, the mere fact that Paul Robeson talked about America from that vantage point, and that’s said being one of the most visible and most patriotic Americans of his time, believing that we did have or America did have the will, perhaps, we could initiate the will for the Americans to live out their ideals and live out the ideals of the Constitution. But I think on the one hand we’re in this very tricky moment now, because it seems as if through all of this, through all of this, out of our own fear—and I use the word fear—if Obama wanted to place it in front of that San Francisco audience about us holding onto our guns and religion, but we use our own fear in some sort of way, now, to end up voting against our best interests, perhaps. And that’s the frightening thing about this moment.
JAY: Please join us for part 2 of our discussion with Danny Glover where we will take up what might happen if Obama does lose this nomination; what happens to the Democratic Party and what happens to the movement. Thank you for joining us.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.