With Super Tuesday forthcoming, I had the opportunity to talk with Bernie Sanders’ National HBCU Outreach Director, Danny Glover–not to be mistaken with the actor. He is a graduate of Tennessee State University (TSU). While he was at TSU, he was the SGA president. We talked about the #FeelTheBERN HBCU Tour, why he believes Bernie is the best candidate for president and why it’s crucial for young African-Americans to get engaged in voting this election season.
Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length, you can check out the interview below.
Robert: Talk about the “Feel The Bern Tour.” What are it’s goals?
Danny: The #FeelTheBERN HBCU Tour, which already engaged with students from South Carolina State University, Benedict College, Allen University, Morehouse College, Spelman, Clark-Atlanta University, Savannah State University, and Tougaloo College, is designed to explain to young voters the policies and platform of Senator Bernie Sanders, and why he is the best candidate for president.
Our tour stops are an exciting opportunity for students to get an up close and personal look at the campaign in an election season that is very critical to the future of this country. Also, these rallies serve as an untapped platform to mobilize students and community members to join the political revolution and/or become grassroots organizers.
It’s all about empowering our young HBCU voters to be better informed, authentically engaged and excited about being active participants in this election cycle.
Robert: As many African-Americans are divided between Hillary and Bernie, why do you think Bernie is the best candidate-especially for HBCU’s?
Danny: First of all, Bernie’s platform has been a consistent one—the same social justice issues he’s fighting for now, he’s been vocal about during his entire political career. Sen. Sanders understands that he has to earn our (African-Americans) votes and he has demonstrated a genuine commitment to doing just that.
Finally, for the first time on a presidential campaign trail, a candidate has wholly and organically embraced the importance of America’s 107 HBCUS, enough to bring his message directly to our campuses—and not just one token campaign stop, but an entire program meeting young HBCU students where they are.
When you attend a #FeelTheBERN tour stop, you’re not entering a simple show—this is a tour that celebrates the magic of the HBCU experience and provides a platform for the students themselves to be vocal about the issues that matter to them. In turn, we explain how Sanders plans to address them. We’re talking real time answers to their concerns.
Robert: Why did you join Sen. Sander’s campaign?
I chose to work for Bernie Sanders and support his presidency because I saw a leader who was not afraid to speak on issues that don’t necessarily poll positively. I have been fortunate to work on campaigns that have evolved my perspective, have helped shaped my worldview and have challenged me to make the work that I do matter.
There are certain issues that I consider myself to be highly passionate about including: poverty, criminal justice reform, college affordability and racial injustice. These are issues that I know most people that look like me have dealt with in some form or another. The silencing of these issues has far too often negatively affected Black and Brown people.
At the end of the day, my perspective on these issues were more closely aligned with those of Sen. Sanders. I was impressed with the practicality of his message and I believe that Sen. Sanders’ solutions to these issues will have a positive impact on lives of people of color throughout the United States.
Robert: Why did you want to focus on HBCU’s? What do you think are great assets of HBCU’s?
Danny: I know firsthand the impact of an HBCU education—I attended Tennessee State University, a university that has produced Freedom Riders, world class Olympians, Super Bowl champions and media moguls.
When I entered TSU as a young, ambitious kid from Macon, GA; my experiences there—as a member of the Aristocrat of Bands, the Collegiate 100 Black Men, the Alpha Theta chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and then the University’s 70th SGA president—molded me and groomed me to fulfill its mission to “Think, Work and Serve” my community and now the Bernie Sanders campaign.
It was an honor to be hired to celebrate the significance of HBCU’s in cultivating and educating generations of black voters. Every day of this campaign, I am devoted to ensuring that current HBCU students and other young alums like myself are engaged and excited about this year’s election cycle. I know that if I can get Sen. Sanders’ message to them, they will be informed enough to make a decision when they enter voting booths throughout this primary season.
Robert: If every HBCU student and alum could read this interview, what do you want them to hear?
Danny: Get involved. Our future depends on it. So many young people have become jaded to the electoral process. There are some very interesting, and problematic things happening in our country in this moment—quite frankly, if we as millennials do not get involved with this election as well as elections at our state and local levels, we stand the chance of becoming citizens in a country that devalues the humanity and contributions of people of color— whether this happens through institutionalizing proliferation of debt or disenfranchising entire communities of color through mass incarceration or the privatization of prisons and unjust policing practices.