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Danny Glover’s Commitment to Social Justice: The Impact of Organizations like Barrios Unidos



In the realm of social justice, one name stands out as both an accomplished actor and a passionate humanitarian: Danny Glover. Renowned for his roles in movies like the Lethal Weapon franchise and acclaimed performances in The Color Purple, Mandela, and others, Glover’s commitment to racial and social justice spans far beyond the silver screen. This article explores how Danny Glover has been supporting organizations like Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos and the impact of their work in promoting racial justice, restorative justice, and successful re-entry for formerly incarcerated citizens.

Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos: A Beacon of Change

Danny Glover’s journey as a social activist began long before his acting career took off. He has been actively involved in the fight for human rights and dignity since childhood. As an actor, Glover used his platform to highlight social issues, but his engagement in social justice work goes far deeper than celebrity activism.

For over four decades, Danny Glover has been a devoted supporter of Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, an institution led by Vietnam veteran and Chicano/Latino activist, Nane Alejandrez. This organization plays a vital role in advancing racial justice, advocating prison reform through restorative justice, and aiding formerly incarcerated individuals in successfully reintegrating into society.

The Enduring Struggle for Change

Organizations like Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos face constant challenges as they work to bring about positive change. Glover and Alejandrez, both leaders of color, understand the relentless nature of social justice work. They combat toxic institutional racism and address the issues of mass incarceration that disproportionately affect people of color. Despite the difficulties, they persist in their efforts to create a more just society.

One of the strengths of organizations like Barrios Unidos lies in their ability to build and maintain relationships based on trust. They collaborate with state prisons, allowing them to run programs for incarcerated individuals and facilitate successful prisoner re-entry. These partnerships are essential for sustainable change and social impact.

Taking the Long View: Danny Glover’s Vision

Danny Glover’s support for Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos goes beyond short-term or seasonal commitments. He firmly believes in centering and supporting cultural leadership rooted in communities over extended periods. This sustained support allows organizations like Barrios Unidos to address a wide range of issues, from food security to health and community building to systems change.

Another crucial aspect of Barrios Unidos’ work is their focus on land ownership. By owning their land and buildings in an area with escalating housing and rental prices, they provide stability to their community. This ownership serves as an example of cultural healing and offers a way forward for other organizations facing similar challenges.

Carmen Perez: Inspiring the Next Generation

Carmen Perez, a testament to the impact of Barrios Unidos, was initially drawn to the organization as a UC Santa Cruz student, seeking a sense of belonging. Working with Nane Alejandrez, she found a mentor and a family that supported her growth as a leader. Through her journey, Perez became an advocate for civil rights, gender equity, violence prevention, and restorative justice. Today, she serves as the President and CEO of The Gathering for Justice, a group dedicated to ending child incarceration.

Perez’s journey underscores the significance of investing in community-based leaders. Long-term support for individuals like Nane Alejandrez ensures the continuity of their impactful work. However, despite their immense contributions, community-based organizations like Barrios Unidos often struggle with adequate funding and recognition from traditional philanthropy.

The Urgent Need for Philanthropic Support

In a year marked by unprecedented challenges, leaders like Nane Alejandrez and organizations like Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos face mounting obstacles. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified existing health disparities, affecting communities of color disproportionately. Philanthropy plays a critical role in supporting these organizations and sustaining their efforts to build a more just and equitable society.

Danny Glover, through his unwavering commitment, shows us the value of investing in community-based leaders and their work. Philanthropic institutions must recognize the global impact of organizations like Barrios Unidos and provide them with the resources they need to continue their vital work.


Danny Glover’s dedication to social justice and his enduring support for organizations like Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos exemplify the power of individual commitment and community-based efforts. By championing cultural leadership, advocating for restorative justice, and investing in the future generation of leaders, Glover leaves a legacy of positive change and inspiration for others to follow.

In the face of ongoing challenges, it is crucial for philanthropy to recognize the importance of funding and supporting organizations like Barrios Unidos. Together, we can create a more inclusive, equitable, and compassionate society where the tireless work of social activists like Danny Glover and Nane Alejandrez can thrive and make a lasting impact.

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