Charleston’s First Civil Rights Film Festival Featured Actor Danny Glover

April 24, 2017, 4:04 pm EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, SC (FOX 24 NEWS NOW) — Charleston hosted its first Civil Rights Film Festival this past weekend, which featured the made-for-tv film ‘Freedom Song,’ featuring actor Danny Glover, released on the year 2000.

We sat down with Glover, one-on-one, to discuss race relations in 2017.

“I want to understand how we see change, qualify change or quantify change, or whatever it is. When I see that, in this country, African-American men and women represent just about half of the men and women incarcerated, and that the jobless rates for the young African-American youth are still higher than should be – or in certain communities- that education is a real issue even right here in South Carolina. Especially since South Carolina is a state where the population of African-Americans exceeds 30%. Yet the represent about 73% of those incarcerated. Something is wrong.”

Born to parents heavily involved in the NAACP, Glover was politically involved in college and took part in the Black Students Union at San Francisco State University.

“I’ve been involved and witnessed every single movement from the Civil Rights movement to the movement to end decolonization, to all the various movements. The women’s movement, the black power movement, you could say all of those have been part of my culturation. Part of me being who I am, and I have been able to watch them, observe them, study them in cases and have my own opinions and thoughts about them.”

Despite his political outspokenness, he doesn’t consider himself an activist.

“I consider myself a citizen. When I first learned the word, I found it was very intriguing. My third grade teacher used the word citizen. She was a woman from Beaumont, Texas, so she had to be reaccredited to teach all of us little kids who lived primarily in the projects in San Francisco. She said ‘I’m not interested in making good students, I’m interested in making good citizens.’ Right in the middle of the civil rights movement, about the time of the Montgomery Bus boycott, so citizenship and how it is realized and demonstrated, were some of the things that I saw first hand as a child. It didn’t matter if you were an actor, collected garbage, a teacher or doctor, you were still a citizen. There is a responsibility for being a citizen. Now does my responsibility take on a different form and I have to be accountable in different ways? I don’t think so. I just talk about what I think is important. If I talk about the way I want to see the world, if I talk about the issues around justice, the issues around education, access to healthcare, access to housing and everything else, I’m simply doing that as a citizen who is responding to what I think is necessary in the fight for justice.”

We also asked him where he thinks racism stands today.

“We are not doing well on the issue of race. There were opportunities. Dr. King talked about that in his last book. There were opportunities with the war on poverty or with the Johnson Administration in 1965 and all of those opportunities, but those opportunities were crushed or just disappeared.”

It is a sentiment that is felt far and wide across Charleston. “It’s important because it is a story of the Civil Rights movement. It’s a continuing struggle and a story that needs to be told and reminded, particularly to young folks in our community and in our country, and what better person to help tell the message than Danny,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

The first Charleston Civil Rights Festival which featured ‘Freedom Song’ took place this weekend. It was the brainchild of John Hale, Associate Professor at the College of Charleston, a professor of the Civil Rights movement. We asked him what drew him into the subject matter.

“I was interested in subject matter when I was a teacher in Wisconsin and I realized very quickly that there was tremendous inequality in the system,” he said. “I began reading history of people, educators and activists who were trying to change that system. Of course this lead me to study the civil rights movement and a lot of the big names in that field, including Dave Dennis. So when I moved to Charleston, Dave was a very significant organizer in Charleston, Mississippi and all throughout the south. I met him and he really mentored me and introduced me to tremendous networks. Charleston is just such a great place to organize.”

He decided to create a film festival around it while he was working with his friend and colleague Benjamin Hedin, author of ‘In Search of the Movement’. “He was a producer and director of ‘Two Trains Running.’ Becoming involved in the documentary, as a consultant and talking head, as they would say, I really learned that film and documentaries were so powerful in organizing. When you take a documentary across the country you can really see the potential and the impact it has on large audiences. So Ben and I were talking and we just really felt that Charleston was a ideal location to hold a Civil Rights film festival because the city hasn’t really hosted anything like that.”

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