Glory is a celebration of a little-known act of mass courage during the Civil War. Simply put, the heroes involved have been ignored by history due to racism. Those heroes were the all-black members of the 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, headed by Col.
Despite the fact that the Civil War is ostensibly being fought on their behalf, the black soldiers are denied virtually every privilege and amenity that is matter of course for their white counterparts; as in armies past and future, they are given the most menial and demeaning of tasks. Still, none of the soldiers quit the regiment when given the chance.
The unofficial leaders of the group are gravedigger John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) and fugitive slave Trip (Denzel Washington), respectively representing the brains and heart of the organization. The 54th acquit themselves valiantly at Fort Wagner, SC, charging a fortification manned by some 1,000 Confederates.
Glory was based on Lincoln Kirstein's Lay This Laurel and Peter Burchard's One Gallant Rush; the latter book was founded on the letters of Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the real-life character played by Matthew Broderick.
The film won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for co-star Denzel Washington, and additional statuettes for Best Cinematography (Freddie Francis) and Sound Recording.