Danny Glover: Actor, activist, speaker. Image courtesy of Mississippi Freedom Summer.

Daniel Lebern Glover was born on July 22, 1946, in San Francisco. While Glover is primarily known as an actor, he has also earned numerous accolades working as an activist. In addition to his role in Lethal Weapon (1987–88) and The Color Purple (1985), he’s played dozens characters in both television shows and movies throughout his career. Some of his more recent achievements include the NAACP Image Awards in 2014 and the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Humanitarian Award in 2004 (IMDb). For his work social activism, he received the NAACP President’s Award in 2018 and the NAACP Chairman Award in 2003. He was appointed as a goodwill ambassador for the UN Development Programme in 1988 and an ambassador for the UNICEF division in 2004. Glover has also worked in places like Africa, the Caribbean, and South America (UN). His advocacy has been recognized all over the world, but his efforts initially began in San Francisco.

Raised in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Glover attended George Washington High School in the Richmond District and graduated in 1965. He went on to study economics at SFSU (Cleary). At SFSU, he became interested in the community issues that faced the Western Addition, specifically those regarding urban renewal and gentrification.

In 1968, Glover participated in the historic five-month strike that resulted in the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU. On the 46th anniversary of the student-led strike, Glover gave a speech at SFSU and stated that “We were especially observant that societal relationships were reflections of history, and we were writing our own history of institutional transformation, but inside and outside of this institution, we understood that education had the power to recalibrate our experiences and to engage us in a process of struggle.” In 2016, he also supported SFSU students on a hunger strike demanding more resources for the College of Ethnic Studies (Kai-Hwa).

Glover was awarded an honorary degree and also the Presidential Medal of SFSU for his “lifelong involvement in programs promoting education” (Polidora). He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of San Francisco in 2014.

Before becoming a well-known activist, Glover began his career as a Model Cities Program Manager for San Francisco’s Office of Community Development from 1972 to 1977 (HistoryMakers). He also became involved with the Western Addition Community Organization (WACO) and counseled renters who were about to be displaced (Hill). In the 70s, Glover was a part of the Black Panther Breakfast for Children program which was later adapted as a government program (Hill).

By age 28, Glover had started taking acting classes at Shelton Actors Lab (Cleary). After realizing this as his second passion, Glover began training at the Black Actors Workshop of the American Conservatory Theatre. His Broadway debut was in Athol Fugard’s Master Harold . . . and the Boys, which brought him national fame. He was later cast in Places in the Heart which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1985. In 2005, he combined his love for acting and film making with activism and co-founded Louverture Films in New York City. The production company is dedicated to producing independent films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity (Louverture Films). Since its inception, the company has put out about 26 films on topics such as Hurricane Katrina, post-conflict Nepal, and a movie about Afghanistan.

Glover has also gotten the chance to make a firsthand impact in several countries around the world. After being appointed as a Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, Glover traveled to Haiti, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, and South Africa to help fight against HIV/AIDS, poverty and disease. Since becoming a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2004, Glover visited Colombia on behalf of UNICEF’s call for private enterprises to support the welfare of the country’s children. He also gave a presentation in Jamaica to share ideas on Caribbean philanthropy and meet with members of non-governmental organizations to discuss the issue of HIV/AIDS and the impacts it has on children. Additionally, he chaired the board of the Africa Unite Symposium in 2005 and visited Ethiopia to participate in a benefit concert for Africa Unite.

In 2013, he earned the 2013 Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award (UN). Glover, however, does not do what he does for recognition—his passions supersede any awards or accolades he has earned, and his real life actions demonstrate his true character.

Meghan Grant and Nell Bayliss

Works Cited

“Actor, Producer and Humanitarian Danny Glover to Receive the President’s Award.” NAACP Image Awards. 11 Jan 2018.

Cleary, Don. “Glover, Danny (1946– ).” The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. 2018.

“Danny Glover Biography.” The HistoryMakers. 20 Dec 2015.

“Danny Glover.” Freedom50.org.

“Goodwill Ambassador.” UNICEF. 10 Oct 2013.

“Glover, Danny.” IMDb. 2018.

Kai-Hwa, Frances. “Agreement Reached in SF Hunger Strike to Fund Ethnic Studies.” NBC News. 1968.

“Celebrating SFSU Strike, Danny Glover Reflects on Student Struggle…” Liberation News. 23 Nov 2015.

Louverture Films. 2018.

“Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors at the United Nations—23 October 2000.” UN. 2018.

Polidora, Ligeia. “Actor and activist Danny Glover to be honored by SFSU.” SFSU. 1999.

Polidora, Ligeia. “A Few among Many Notable SFSU.” SFSU. 2018.

Viewing Message: 1 of 1.

Important: Read our blog and commenting guidelines before using the USF Blogs network.