Prison insult to reparations injury
He has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 30 years. Many may know him from his role in Lethal Weapon as Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh, but actor, film producer, humanitarian and reparations advocate Danny Glover wears many hats.
So when British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about reparations during his visit to Jamaica last week,
urging the region to "move on" from slavery, Glover was among the many people who were angered.
Speaking at The Gleaner's Editors' Forum yesterday, held at 7 North Street, Kingston, Glover said Cameron's statement was an insult to the region.
"The descendants of slavery have been victims and it is a direct result of what happened during slavery," he said. "We must talk about the issue; it is not something to be forgotten, and what he said was wrong."
Don Rojas, former editor-in-chief of Grenada's national newspaper, The Free West Indian, and James Early, former director of Cultural Studies and Communication at the Centre for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, agreed with Glover. They also said Cameron's statement was an insult and added that had it been the issue of the Holocaust that was brought up, Cameron would have had very contrasting views.
However, they said that the reparations for slavery movement has gathered global momentum and is growing worldwide as a result of the movement in the Caribbean. They urged persons involved in the movement to continue the work.
"It may take the next two
generations, but each generation should make their contribution to the process," said Early.
Also at the forum were film commissioner Carole Beckford, and the duo, Twin of Twins.
As an actor, Glover explained the importance of grounding himself in history and getting involved in meaningful action such as the reparation movement. "I decided to become an actor because of the work I'd be engaged in and what I would be able to accomplish," he explained. "It was important to me that I decide whose side of the world I was on. An actor is defined by whose side of the world they are on, and I wanted to make a change."
When asked why he chose to do humanitarian work instead of running off to enjoy the riches and fame stemming from being a successful actor, Glover said being born during the civil rights era impacted his life
"I was born in the movement of change and that impacted my decisions. There are things in life that are more important than just living; it is important to me that I be a citizen and be a part of the struggle," he said.
"I had a second-grade teacher who stressed the importance of citizenship. She always said, 'I'm in the business of making good citizens,' and I remembered that from the moment she said it. What did she mean by citizenship? Did it just involve my local community or did it also involve my national community and my global community?" he asked.
In recognition of his lifetime dedication to public service, Glover was given the 2002 Marian Anderson Award. He is on the leadership team of the Vanguard Public Foundation in San Francisco and is chairman of the board of TransAfrica Forum, an African-American lobbying organisation for Africa and the Caribbean.
Glover has also supported United Nations campaigns focusing on poverty, disease, and economic development in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean for many years, and in 2004, he was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Glover was invited to Jamaica as a guest of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, University of the West Indies, Mona, to discuss issues surrounding the growing reparations
He will be in the island until tomorrow.