29 Mar Danny Glover ~ Activist and Artist
In 2022, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Glover with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Additionally, Glover has received numerous accolades, including the NAACP‘s President’s Award and the Cuban National Medal of Friendship by the Cuban Council of State. He has also received nominations for four Primetime Emmy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and a Daytime Emmy Award. IndieWire named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.
Danny Lebern Glover was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Carrie (Hunley) and James Glover. Both of his parents were postal workers, and were active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), working to advance equal rights. Glover’s mother, daughter of a midwife, was born in Louisville, Georgia and graduated from Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. His father was a World War II veteran. He graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco.
As an adolescent and a young adult, Glover had epilepsy but has not had a seizure since age 35. He attended San Francisco State University (SFSU) in the late 1960s but did not graduate. SFSU later awarded him the Presidential Medal of San Francisco State University for his service to education. Glover trained at the Black Actors’ Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater.
Glover originally worked in city administration working on community development before transitioning to theater. He has said:
I didn’t think it was a difficult transition. Acting is a platform that can become a conveyer for ideas. Art is a way of understanding, of confronting issues and confronting your own feelings—all within that realm of the capacity it represents. It may have been a leap of faith for me, given not only my learning disability (dyslexia) but also the fact that I felt awkward. I felt all the things that someone that’s 6′3″ or 6′4″ feels and with my own diminished expectations of who I could be [and] would feel. Whether it’s art, acting or theater that I’ve devoted myself to I put more passion and more energy into it.
In 2004, he appeared in the low-budget horror film Saw as Detective David Tapp. In 2005, Glover and Joslyn Barnes announced plans to make No FEAR, a film about Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo‘s experience. Coleman-Adebayo won a 2000 jury trial against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The jury found the EPA guilty of violating the civil rights of Coleman-Adebayo on the basis of race, sex, color, and a hostile work environment, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Coleman-Adebayo was terminated shortly after she revealed the environmental and human disaster taking place in the Brits, South Africa, vanadium mines. Her experience inspired the passage of the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No-FEAR Act). As of 2013 the No Fear title has not appeared but The Marsha Coleman-Adebayo Story was announced as the next major project of No Fear Media
In May 2007, President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez contributed $18 million to fund the production of Toussaint for Glover, who was a prominent U.S. supporter of Chávez. The contribution annoyed some Venezuelan filmmakers, who said the money could have funded other homegrown films and that Glover’s film was not even about Venezuela.
In April 2008, the Venezuelan National Assembly authorized an additional $9,840,505 for Glover’s film, which is still in planning.
In 2015, Glover gave an update on the Toussaint project, stating, “The film that we always missed is a movie on the Haitian revolution and Toussaint Louverture. The company is fortuitously named after him and that was the movie that I wanted to do. We’ve developed a script. We thought we were going to get it done four years ago. We thought we were going to be making it right now. But also there are other kinds of things that intrigue me.”
Glover married Asake Bomani in 1975 and they have a daughter, Mandisa, born in 1976. Glover and Bomani divorced in 2000. Glover married Eliane Cavalleiro in 2009.
Glover purchased a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) house in Dunthorpe, Oregon, in 1999. As of 2011, he no longer lives in Oregon.
On April 16, 2010, Glover was arrested in Maryland during a protest by SEIU workers for Sodexo‘s alleged unfair and illegal treatment of workers. He was given a citation and later released. The Associated Press reports “Glover and others stepped past yellow police tape and were asked to step back three times at Sodexo headquarters. When they refused, officers arrested them.”
While attending San Francisco State University (SFSU), Glover was a member of the Black Students’ Union, which, along with the Third World Liberation Front and the American Federation of Teachers, collaborated in a five-month student-led strike to establish a Department of Black Studies. The strike was the longest student walkout in U.S. history. It helped create not only the first Department of Black Studies but also the first School of Ethnic Studies in the United States.
Hari Dillon, current president of the Vanguard Public Foundation, was a fellow striker at SFSU. Glover later co-chaired Vanguard’s board. He is also a board member of the Algebra Project, the Black AIDS Institute, Walden House and Cheryl Byron‘s Something Positive Dance Group. He was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly after being arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington during a protest over Sudan’s humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
In 1999, he used his leverage as a former San Francisco cab driver to raise awareness about African Americans being passed over for white passengers. In response, Rudolph Giuliani launched Operation Refusal, which suspended the licenses of cab drivers who favored white passengers over black ones.
Glover’s long history of union activism includes support for the United Farm Workers, UNITE HERE, and numerous service unions. In March 2010, Glover supported 375 Union workers in Ohio by calling upon all actors at the 2010 Academy Awards to boycott Hugo Boss suits following announcement of Hugo Boss’s decision to close a manufacturing plant in Ohio after a proposed pay decrease from $13 to $8.30 an hour was rejected by the Workers United Union.
Glover is an outspoken political activist.
Glover is an active board member of the TransAfrica Forum. On April 6, 2009, Glover was given a chieftaincy title in Imo State, Nigeria. His title, “Enyioma of Nkwerre“, means A Good Friend in the language of the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria.
In 2018, Glover, as the UN Goodwill Ambassador, met with Lula to express solidarity and support for his presidential candidacy. During a trip to Brazil, he also met with the family of Marielle Franco, the City Council member and LGBT activist murdered in Rio de Janeiro.
Caribbean and Haiti
On January 13, 2010, Glover compared the scale and devastation of the 2010 Haiti earthquake to the predicament other island nations may face as a result of the failed Copenhagen summit the previous year. Glover said: “the threat of what happens to Haiti is a threat that can happen anywhere in the Caribbean to these island nations … they’re all in peril because of global warming … because of climate change … when we did what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens“.
Glover was also a board member of TeleSUR, a media network primarily funded by the Venezuelan government. During the beginning of the 2014 Venezuela Protests, Glover shared his support to Chávez’s successor, President Nicolás Maduro, calling members of his government “the stewards” of Venezuela’s democracy. Glover also told Venezuelan government supporters to go fight for the sovereignty of Maduro’s government. Through the crisis in Bolivarian Venezuela, Glover continued to show his support for the Bolivarian government and President Maduro’s administration.
Glover has become an active member of the board of directors for The Jazz Foundation of America. He became involved with The Jazz Foundation in 2005, and has been a featured host for their annual benefit A Great Night in Harlem for several years, as well appearing as a celebrity MC at other events for the foundation. In 2006, Britain’s leading African theatre company Tiata Fahodzi appointed Glover as one of its three Patrons, joining Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jocelyn Jee Esien opening the organization’s tenth-anniversary celebrations (February 2, 2008) at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, London.
In 2010, Glover delivered the Commencement Address and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Utah State University. The same year, Starr King School for the Ministry awarded him a Doctorate of Humane Letters in absentia. He was awarded the doctorate specifically for his long history of activism, including support for the United Farm Workers, UNITE HERE, The Algebra Project, The Black AIDS Institute, as well as his humanitarian efforts on behalf of the Haiti earthquake victims, literacy and civil rights and his fight against unjust labor practices.
He was also the recipient of a tribute paid by the Deauville American Film Festival in France on September 7, 2011.
Glover was awarded the Cuban National Medal of Friendship by the Cuban Council of State on December 29, 2016, in a ceremony in Havana for his solidarity with the Cuban 5 during their time of incarceration in the United States.