Few prominent activists are more willing to put their time and energy into the struggle for economic and social justice than actor Danny Glover. The man who describes himself "as a child of the Civil Rights Movement" has been stirring things up since his days as a member of the Black Students Union at San Francisco State University in the 1960s.
In the 1980s, he was an outspoken critic of U.S. support for the death squads of Central America the apartheid regime in South Africa. The latter campaigning led to his selection to serve as the chairman of the board of TransAfrica Forum, the Washington-based group that plays a critical role in lobbying U.S. policymakers on behalf of African and Caribbean countries. At home in the U.S., Glover has picketed with striking workers, marched for immigrant rights and tirelessly campaigned against the war in Iraq.
All that activism has made Glover a well-regarded figure on the political left. After years of turning to him to aid their strikes, rallies and teach-ins, activists take the actor's commitments and endorsements seriously. I got a sense of the regard for Glover when I introduced him in January to 4,000 activists from across the country at the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis -- the standing ovation and the deafening applause made it clear that this man has a following that is rooted in far more than his Hollywood-star status.
So who is Glover backing for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008?
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Glover endorsed the former North Carolina senator after the two men joined Louisiana civil rights activist Kwame Asante and others for a recent work project in the 9th Ward of New Orleans -- the community that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and from which Edwards announced his candidacy late last year.
Said Glover, "John Edwards brings everyone to the table. His words, actions, and policies speak to all of us. He brings integrity, honesty, and a spirit of activism that challenges each of us to do more to make this a better nation and a better world. I know him, I trust him, and I know he will be a great president."
The Edwards campaign has not made a big deal of the Glover endorsement yet. It should. Winning the Danny Glover primary counts for something with progressive activists who might well have expected Glover to back his friend Congressman Dennis Kucinich or the "rock star" of the 2008 race, Illinois Senator Barack Obama Ã¢ËœÂ¼.
Glover's endorsement will not, in and of itself, turn the course of this race. No one's endorsement -- aside, perhaps, from a Bill Clinton switch to the Edwards or Obama camp -- can do that. But it should get some wavering Democrats to look again at the man who was their party's 2004 vice presidential nominee. That Glover is describing the former senator as the candidate who "brings everyone to the table" says something important about the progressive appeal of the Edwards campaign.
John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"
Copyright © 2007 The Nation