Danny Glover, the actor best known for his work in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, will be coming to Oxford to speak at the university and to attend the 14th Annual Oxford Film Festival this Friday
During his visit to campus, Glover will be speaking about the Mississippi Alliance for a Better Nissan’s March on Mississippi. He will also be attending a showing of “I Am Not Your Negro” at the Malco Commons and will be speaking briefly beforehand.
Glover will be speaking at 5 p.m. Friday in Farley Hall Room 202. Glover will also be working to recruit for the March on Mississippi. The March on Mississippi was organized by the Mississippi Alliance For Fairness at Nissan that is bringing attention to what organizers are calling poor working conditions at the Nissan manufacturing plant in Canton. Sen. Bernie Sanders is also expected to attend.
“Folks with the United Auto Workers contacted me,” journalism professor Joseph Atkins said. “They said that Danny Glover was so impressed with a group of young students from the University of Mississippi he met recently that he would like to come up here and speak with them and others at a meeting.”
Atkins has been covering labor issues for many years while maintaining a wide network of sources who keep him informed on these matters.
“Nissan relies on the support of the public; they want us to buy their products,” said Jaz Brisack, Ole Miss sophomore and president of the student group Popular Resistance. “We’re hoping to put the pressure on them to change their abusive labor practices or face potential dealership boycotts and direct appeals to the public.”
Brisack said she believes the march will draw national media attention while educating the public on this matter.
The debate over whether to allow Nissan workers to unionize has been ongoing for the past few years. Do Better Together, an organization of Nissan workers and other groups, has been working to promote the agenda by organizing college tours and getting students from all over the southeastern United States involved in protests and movements.
In a 2013 article on the Do Better Together site, Glover explained why having a union option was so important to the Canton Nissan plant.
“They have unions in South Africa and Japan,” Glover said. “We’re only asking for American workers to have the right to vote on a union and not face intimidation.”
Mississippi Alliance for a Better Nissan, along with Glover, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair, is taking part in the “March on Mississippi,” which will take place in Canton.
Students also hope involvement with political action like the March on Mississippi will encourage development and investment in causes that have historical precedent in the state.
“The Labor Movement has a long-standing impact on our society as a whole,” said Dominique Scott, the president of Students Against Social Injustice. “Students should care about the labor movement because many of us come from working class families. Even middle- or upper-class working families who are historically laborers.”
“Being an African-American woman, I come from the descendants of African slaves who were forcibly brought here as laborers, and so the labor movement is an integral part of our society,” Scott said.
“I hope that they will see the importance of the issues Mr. Glover wants to address – voter suppression efforts and worker rights as well as the upcoming March 4 March on Mississippi,” Atkins said.
After Glover finishes his engagement at the university, he will head to the Oxford Film Festival, where Raoul Peck’s film “I Am Not Your Negro” will have two showings, one at 7 p.m. and another at 7:45 p.m.
Melanie Addington, director of the Oxford Film Festival, said she and Glover spoke last week and finalized plans on Monday.
Glover is scheduled to speak before the film at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby, according to Addington.
This article was submitted to The Daily Mississippian from an advanced reporting class.