Danny Glover was born in San Francisco on July 22, 1946, to parents who were active members of the NAACP. He studied economics at San Francisco State College (SFSC), where he was strongly influenced by Amiri Baraka, the black separatist Sonia Sanchez, and other radicals who either visited or taught there in the tumultuous Sixties. Moreover, Glover joined the campus’s Black Students Union (BSU), which staged a five-month-long strike that ultimately pressured the school into establishing its first Ethnic Studies Department. Glover today recounts how he and his fellow BSU members “worked in the [Black] Panthers‘ free-breakfast-for-children program,” “helped them [the Panthers] organize their newspaper,” and “embraced a lot of struggles globally,” including “the anti-Vietnam War movement” and “liberation struggles going on in South Africa, the Portuguese colonies, and Zimbabwe.” Also during his young adulthood, Glover “lived in a political commune for a year.”
In 1974, Glover began training at the American Conservatory Theater’s Black Actors Workshop.1 He made his (uncredited) film debut five years later in Escape from Alcatraz and subsequently went on to become a major actor in the film industry, beginning with his 1984 appearance in Places in the Heart. For additional details of Glover’s acting career, click here.
Throughout his years as an entertainer, Glover has been outspoken on matters of politics, social justice, and race. In November 1999, for instance, he filed a bias complaint alleging that New York City taxi drivers had repeatedly passed him by because he was black. But in fact, at least half of all NYC cabbies at that time were black themselves, and only a tiny minority were white.
Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Glover asserted that the U.S. was in no position to pass moral judgment on the perpetrators of those atrocities because “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country, whether it’s been against Nicaragua, Vietnam or wherever.” On another occasion post-9/11, Glover criticized Americans’ “rabid nationalism that has its own kind of potential of being maniacal, in some sense.”
Glover has long opposed capital punishment under any and all circumstances. When an audience member at a November 2001 anti-death-penalty forum at Princeton University asked the actor whether he would object to the U.S. executing Osama bin Laden, Glover replied: “When I say the death penalty is inhumane, I mean inhumane whether that person is in a bird cage [jail] or it’s bin Laden.”
At the same event, Glover characterized President George W. Bush as a racist who was intent on reversing America’s post-1950s civil-rights advances. “We must stand vigilant against Bush in these times and work with the abolitionists,” the actor said. In a 2003 interview, Glover flatly declared that Bush “is racist,” explaining: “As Texas’s governor, Bush led a penitentiary system that executed more people than all the other U.S. states together. And most of the people who died from [the] death penalty were Afro-Americans or Hispanics.” And at a New York City anti-war rally in February 2003—with a U.S. invasion of Iraq becoming increasingly likely—Glover charged that the Bush administration was composed of “liars and murderers.”
Beginning in 2002, Glover supported Not In Our Name, a Revolutionary Communist Party initiative pledging “resistance to [America’s] endless war, detentions and roundups, [and] attacks on civil liberties.”
In April 2003, Glover was one of 160 artists and performers who signed “To the Conscience of the World,” a public letter condemning the recent U.S. invasion of Iraq and supporting the right of Fidel Castro‘s communist dictatorship in Cuba to exercise “self-determination.” Glover had paid numerous friendly visits to Castro in Havana. According to the state-controlled Cuban newspaper Granma International, “There’s an intense relationship between Danny Glover and Havana. It was love at first sight, and not only has it stood the test of his frequent visits, but it is growing deeper and deeper, through discoveries and affinities.”
Working alongside the Marxist historian Howard Zinn, Glover in 2005 played the role of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the stage production of Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States. He subsequently reprised that role in The People Speak, a 2009 television mini-series based on Zinn’s book.
In 2006 Glover joined such notables as Ed Asner, Cynthia McKinney, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, and Lynn Woolsey in staging a “Troops Home Fast” hunger strike to protest the Iraq War. Organized by Gold Star Families for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan and endorsed by Code Pink for Peace, the strike was performed in a relay fashion—i.e., each participant fasted for a day, then “passed” the proverbial baton to someone else.
In May 2007, Glover endorsed John Edwards for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Following Edwards’ withdrawal from the race in January 2008, the actor switched his allegiance to Barack Obama. Moreover, he collaborated with Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher Jr., and Tom Hayden to establish Progressives for Obama—later known as Progressive America Rising.
Portraying Israel as an “Apartheid regime,” Glover has been an outspoken supporter of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement. In 2009 he boycotted the Toronto Film Festival because its program honored the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv—a city that, according to Glover, was responsible for the “suffering of thousands of [Palestinian] former residents and descendants.” For similar reasons, in May 2014 Glover called for a boycott of a scheduled screening in Tel-Aviv of a documentary about the American social-justice activist Grace Lee Boggs. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine,” said Glover, “and support their call for cultural and academic boycott of Israel.”
Glover embraces the notion that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are responsible for global warming and a host of related climatic calamities. After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2009, the actor said in an interview: “What happened in Haiti could happen to anywhere in the Caribbean because all these island nations are in peril because of global warming. When we see what we did at the [United Nations] climate summit in Copenhagen [failing to arrive at an ‘environmental-protection’ deal that would transfer massive amounts of money from the U.S. to the Third World], this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?” In May 2010, Glover told graduates at Utah State University that “global warming is real and … climate change is a human-rights issue as well as an environmental issue.”
In April 2010, Glover spoke at a North Carolina conference marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Other prominent speakers included Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, Eric Holder, James Lawson, John Lewis, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and lifelong Communist Party USA activist Debbie Bell. In his remarks, Glover noted that SNCC and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had met their stiffest resistance from the political establishment when they “dared to challenge the very basis of capitalism, money.”
In April 2011 Glover joined such luminaries as Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Sarandon, Pete Seeger, Martin Sheen , and Oliver Stone in signing a letter that praised former President Jimmy Carter for advocating that the so-called “Cuban Five”—former members of a KGB-trained, Castro-directed spy ring—be released from the U.S. prisons where they were incarcerated. According to Glover and his fellow signatories, the Cuban Five had been imprisoned for “simply trying to protect their country from terrorism.” In a December 2011 article which he co-authored with the late Saul Landau, Glover absurdly likened the original trial of the Cuban Five to the hypothetical of Jews being tried in Berlin in 1938.
In a January 2013 appearance at Texas A&M University, Glover characterized America as a “material[istic],” “militaristic,” “racist” society. At the same event, he stated that “the genesis of the right to bear arms” as guaranteed by the Second Amendment “comes from the right … for settlers to protect themselves from slave revolts and from uprisings by Native Americans. So, a revolt from people who were stolen from their lands, or revolts from people whose land was stolen from.” As a Breitbart.com analysis subsequently made clear, Glover’s assertion was inaccurate and historically illiterate.
Glover serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). “The international community must increase its commitment to fighting Afrophobia and discrimination against people of African descent,” he told a United Nations publication in 2016.
In March 2018, Glover, a board member of the Venezuelan state television channel Telesur, made a good-will visit to Caracas, where he had a friendly meeting with President Nicolás Maduro and — notwithstanding Venezuela’s precipitous descent into a state of financial chaos and humanitarian crisis — praised Maduro’s socialist regime for “advancing humanity through education, health, and other aspects that honor human kind.” “It is a privilege to be here,” Glover said at the presidential palace on March 24, explaining that Venezuela’s socialist revolution was about “uplifting human beings” and creating a “collective humanity.”
In testimony he delivered before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in June 2019, Glover spoke in favor of reparations payments to African Americans, characterizing such payments as vital to the “reckoning of a crime against humanity that is foundational to the development of democracy and material well-being” of the United States. “A national reparations policy is a moral, democratic, and economic imperative,” he told lawmakers. “… Despite much progress over the last centuries, this hearing is yet another important step in the long and heroic struggle of African-Americans to cure the damages inflicted by enslavement, post-emancipation and forced racial exclusionary policies.”
In a July 2020 interview with Variety magazine, Glover spoke in support of the Black Lives Matter movement while condemning American police officers as racists: “[T]he violence that we see — whether it’s the toxic places where they [black people] live; the inadequacy of health care for them; whether it’s the lack of affordable housing; the absence of jobs at living wages; all those things – that’s basically going unseen. We see the actual violence because the police is what it is. It’s the last line line of defense for white supremacy. That’s what the police represents. They don’t protect African Americans. You can make an argument that the institutional violence has its roots in so many different ways. The violence that we see now that is acted out on the physical body of George Floyd [a black Minneapolis man who had died as a result of police brutality five weeks earlier] has been the kind of violence that is engrained within the American idea of its culture, in its own subtlety, since the first Africans were brought here. So it’s 400 years of violence. It’s not just now!”
Glover currently has an estimated net worth of $40 million.
For additional Information on Danny Glover, click here.
1 This exposed Glover to the works of the South African playwright Athol Fugard. Glover would later star in the 1982 Broadway production of Fugard’s Master Harold … and the Boys, which brought him critical acclaim.