RIP Mohammed Ali -- Black Muslim, hero, warrior, freedom fighter.......brave, beautiful, magnificent, and everything. The epitome of excellence. Thank you for being The Greatest inside and outside of the ring, and for uplifting black pride as a means to emancipation and self-love.
"We live in an actively and violently racist society.....all of us, all the time.....like living in a river that is being dragged over the edge of a waterfall. If we are not actively swimming against the rushing torrent, if we are not actively resisting and fighting racism then we are not "non-racist." ~Katherine Hibbard
The National Black Writers Conference (NBWC) was held at the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York on March 28, 2015. The conference paid tribute to 68-year-old actor, director, producer, and activist Danny Glover.
The theme of this year's biennial symposium explored voices of liberation and resistance. At a time when black and brown men are victimized and incarcerated, and when young black men and women are taking to the streets in cities like Ferguson, Chicago, Boston, and New York to protest injustice, the theme of this year's symposium reflected the current political climate.
Glover's acute awareness of social and political issues is conveyed by the magnificent stretch of his activism - from mobilizing workers to demand better pay, to raising awareness about climate change - Glover's existence is one that is admirably grounded in a belief in humanity, and a complex moral schema that is shaped by an understanding of what is right, just, and good. According to Glover, what becomes morally relevant is the availability of basic human rights. These basic human rights include access to good food, healthcare, employment, and affordable housing. Often, African-Americans living in low-income communities are prevented from accessing some or all of these rights.
Glover’s mention of the need for healthier food options was met with an uncomfortable silence, because the options in the area surrounding the conference - a mainly black area - included fast food franchises such as McDonald’s, Popeyes, Burger King, and Wendy’s. It seems the availability of good food in black communities is an ongoing issue, especially since fast food franchises target black children.
Glover's appeal also comes from his vibrant personality and his success as an actor. He has made a conscious choice to be a voice for the oppressed, and this choice is rooted in a moral concept that has evolved alongside his achievements in Hollywood. Glover has found a way to reconcile his existence in a world influenced by materialism and superficial values, with liberating those who form the struggling majority. There is a bravery that comes from criticizing a corrupt system while operating in the spotlight; Danny Glover embodies that bravery.
Glover's political ideology is shaped by many influences: his connection to his parents and his slave ancestry, the knowledge gleaned from books, the lyrics of African artists like Miriam Makeba, and the inspiration that comes from the powerful history of slave rebellion.
During a conversation with poet, publisher, and educator Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti, Glover mentioned a "moral revolution" in which he highlighted a need for a shift in what people believe is right and just. The current systems we have in place - systems that promote social control as opposed to human rights - can only change if people begin to change the way they think about these systems.
Glover recognizes that the next generation of young activists must continue the fight for justice by abolishing oppressive structures such as gentrification and the prison industrial complex. The empty seats at the NBWC were a chilling reminder of just how much work needs to be done. The unoccupied seats left everyone wondering, where are all the black men? Sadly, a high number of black men are behind bars for non-violent crimes. According to Michelle Alexander, there are more black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850.
Glover understands that sometimes the quest for justice is about taking risks and delving into unfamiliar waters. This means that activism not only involves a willingness to embrace an idea or vision, but also an acceptance of situations that might seem beyond one's scope or comfort zone. Essentially, pushing through boundaries is the difficult work of an activist. Glover told the audience with a quiet confidence, "Make sure that what you do and what you embrace is much larger than you."