Actor Danny Glover reflects on the writings of Frederick Douglass

Danny Glover sits on a stage with an American flag, flowers and 'Q' mugs.

A conversation about race and inclusion

Acclaimed actor Danny Glover speaks with Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science, about diversity and inclusion during a Black History Month event on February 6 on Burt Kahn Court.


ctor and social activist Danny Glover has spent countless hours with abolitionist Frederick Douglass — through the study of history books and the reading of speeches that fought for freedom.

The candid and insightful Glover, best known for his film roles in “The Color Purple” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, discussed the fight for civil rights and social justice February 6 during a program titled, “From Abolition to #BLM: A Conversation with Danny Glover,” with about 600 people at Burt Kahn Court on our Mount Carmel Campus.


“It’s pretty obvious when we look at what’s happening today, it’s relevant, not only as we look at the issues around race that are happening in this country, but the issues around race that are happening in the rest of the world,” Glover said. “Are the people of color the ones who are the most vulnerable and the most marginalized in this system of capitalism? Of course they are. It’s historic.”

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Danny Glover looks at an exhibition in the Arnold Bernhard Library.

Living history

Acclaimed actor Danny Glover tours a special exhibit on Frederick Douglass with Christine Kinealy, professor of history and director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac..

As the keynote speaker for Black History Month, Glover talked with Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science, about the arts as a platform for change in America. He spoke fondly of his friendship with singer and actor Harry Belafonte, a longtime civil rights advocate. He also quoted Paul Robeson, the groundbreaking actor, activist and son of an escaped slave who said, “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth.”

Glover’s appearance commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Douglass. During one point in the program, Brown-Dean read an especially eloquent quote by Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” She followed the quote with a question to Glover: “What is it that we should be demanding and for whom?”


Danny Glover speaks on stage in front of a crowd at Burt Kahn Court.

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Glover didn’t hesitate with his response: “It’s always been to demand truth and justice for all people.”

One of the most stirring moments of the program came when Glover read from the prescient and provocative Douglass speech, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” Douglass delivered the speech in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852.

Glover’s dramatic oration hinted at what Douglass might have sounded like that summer day in upstate New York:


“The conscience of the nation must be roused. The propriety of the nation must be startled. The hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed, and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced. … Your celebration is a sham, your boasted liberty an unholy license. … There’s not a nation on the Earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.”