Legendary actor Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Almost Christmas) has built a reputation for his powerful on-screen performances and activism around issues of social justice.
At 70 years old, his longest-running fight has focused on labor unions, speaking on behalf of workers from the hotel industry to car factories. This month, Glover, Senator Bernie Sanders and NAACP President Cornell Brooks traveled to Canton, Mississippi, for a pro-union rally at Nissan Motor Company.
While protesting, Glover spoke with theGrio about the inspiration behind his work and what he thinks protest in the era of Trump should really look like.
TG: Where does your particular passion for labor organizing come to play? How is it connected to civil rights for you?
DG: I think it’s always had a connection. Martin Luther King said once that the best anti-poverty program he knows is the union.
I come from a strong community of labor activism. Whether it’s my own family or in San Francisco.
TG: You’ve been speaking out about the issues of workers for some time. What is the significance of your protest against car companies, and why should African-Americans take notice?
DG: There’s several levels we can look at this. Eighty percent of the workforce (at Nissan plant in Canton) are African-Americans.
And we could tie that to the history of Mississippi issues around the suppression of workers. We can talk about beginning from slavery to Jim Crow and on through that. The attempt to crush labor unions.
Secondly, Nissan, an international company, markets primarily to urban youth. It’s No. 1 model it sells to young people is the Altima. So it markets to young black urban youth and at the same time is suppressing workers.
Also, Nissan has 45 plants in the world. Everywhere in the world from Brazil to Japan… Mexico… and only three of those plants do not have representation. Where are those three plants? In MS in TN. The question is: why?