Longform

Ready For Battle

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The visit had enormous impact upon the young Glover. "As I grew, I wanted to learn a lot more about Martin Luther King," he says. "His speeches became part of my speeches in school. His philosophy of nonviolence became part of my own."

As his father did before him, he began to notice similarities between his life and King's. They both had strong father figures. They both entered school intending to become lawyers, but let their strong ties to the church dictate their ordinations instead.

"It's not that I saw myself as Martin," he says familiarly. "It's just that I saw these paths."

Glover traveled to Atlanta and says he came to know the King family. "They became my teachers," he says. "They began to teach me that a minister need not be a pastor. To be a minister dealing with social issues is a legitimate call." (Attempts to reach the King family for comment through the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta were unsuccessful.)

Still, Glover intended to be a pastor. That he never became one is, according to Bishop Hoyt, the second incident that determined his maverick path. Glover came to Dallas in 1980, a freshly ordained minister and graduate of Grambling University, expecting to lead a congregation. He enrolled in graduate school at Southern Methodist University only after an appointment as pastor had not materialized. On campus, he found himself becoming more and more of an activist, and he recognized another call. "He went into an alternative ministry instead of a parish," Hoyt says.

Glover's role at SMU was, according to university chaplain William Finnin, expansive and energetic. At the time Glover matriculated, SMU was primarily--and staunchly--white, the school that many of the children of Highland Park assumed they would one day attend. Finnin credits Glover with helping the school make a smoother transition into multiculturalism than it would have otherwise. "The conflicts that arose at SMU were predictable but no less painful, but we were all growing, and Clarence was right there," Finnin recalls.

According to others, Glover also cut a rakish figure. Certainly his presence on campus was self-styled and startling at conservative SMU. He was often seen in African regalia, beating a Ghanaian drum at cultural events in the student union.

"Here was this man who came to campus in Egyptian garb. We'd never been exposed to that," says Kristin Sullivan, former editor of the Daily Campus. She remembers that more than once Glover took the newspaper to task for what he saw as insensitivity toward blacks. Sullivan says she once ran a front-page story about the Kappa Alpha fraternity's cook, a black woman. In the accompanying photograph, the cook was holding a plate of fried chicken. As if that weren't enough, the paper condescendingly addressed the woman by her first name.

It was Glover who called and complained that the story was racist. "He brought a level of debate to the campus that needed to be held," Sullivan says. "He became the point man for race on campus."

Glover remembers that his first meaningful leadership role took place when the campus senate was considering removing seats set aside for black and Hispanic student representatives. The senate rationalized that minority representation was not needed, but Glover felt the effort was discriminatory by any measure. He argued for constituency politics, and as his presentation to the senate closed, unfurled a petition with hundreds of signatures. The minority seats were saved.

Soon afterward, he was hired by the school administration as a counselor for black students. His SMU career continued to rise: He became coordinator of intercultural programs, then director of intercultural education and minority student affairs. He lectured, gave seminars, and helped the school establish celebrations of black culture that are still observed today.

Glover says his largest contribution was that in 1986 he helped develop a campus policy against racial and other forms of harassment. The policy protects anyone from "words or acts deliberately designed to disregard the safety or rights of another and which intimidate, degrade, demean, threaten, haze, or otherwise interfere with another person's rightful action" regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or religion.

According to Jim Caswell, vice president of student affairs, Glover's role in the policy was "influential." He says Glover was very persuasive and had the best interests of students at heart. He also describes Glover as dogmatic to a fault, adding, "Clarence is a preacher. When you are in Clarence's presence, you are getting the message." Caswell believes that the policy has made a difference because students and faculty are now aware of which behaviors the school finds unacceptable.

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Kaylois Henry