Ive been a resident of Culver City for the last 13 years and in that time I have taken steps to immerse myself into the community and Ive made efforts to use the skills that I have acquired in life to make our city and the surrounding area better.
As a member of the Culver City Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee for the last 5 Years I have been proud to help plan, shape and execute the our celebration from start to finish. Growing up in Alabama and in Florida Dr. Martin Luther King jr. was a constant source of hope and inspiration even when my family would experience difficult times. Over the years I have served as a panelist and a stage manager for the celebration and this year I developed and implemented a Civil Rights Curriculum at the Culver Teen center to increase youth involvement and forge stronger connections between the committee and the community at large. Each week I and a fellow committee member, Steven Fisher, facilitated an interactive program and discussion that delved deeper into the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement as a whole and the countless unnamed other activists, supporters and every day women, men and children who were active participants.
As both a mentor and an actor in the Young Storytellers program at Volunteer at El Rincon Elementary since 2005 I have helped encouraged shy, distracted and enthusiastic students to construct their own screenplays and Ive watched with joy as their eyes lit up when professional actors came in to bring their words to life. When my personal schedule did not afford me the time to participate as a member over the last few years I have participated instead as an actor and helped sculpted a flesh and bone representation of these young authors words.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY
In the Los Angeles area I have been a progressive activist in the real of environment, media,, political reform and foreclosure defense. My initial time in Los Angeles was spent earning my B.A. in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California in the year 2000. Much later and across town I earned my Masters of Social Welfare from UCLA in 2015. Prior to earning my Masters I became much more involved with activism, organizing and politics. In conjunction with a number of other groups and my co-chair Mary Beth Fielder I helped lead the campaign of Move to Amend Los Angeles to get the City of Los Angeles to become the first major city in the country to call for an amendment to the constitution that explicitly states that corporations are not people and that money is not free speech. Shortly after our successful Los Angeles campaign I was asked to become a part of the Move to Amend national board of directors and have been on the national team since 2012.
Source: LA Progressive
As part of the team Ive had the opportunity to travel the country speaking to and doing workshops with impassioned activists at conferences such as Netroots Nations, The National Conference on Media Reform and the Powershift Environmental conference. I have also travelled for Move to Amend specific events and to support partners such as the Global Climate Convergence and Hip Hop Congress. Until its end I helped to organize the Los Angeles Media reform Summit spearheaded by Common Cause California and used many of the connections I made from traveling around the country for Move to Amend work to round out the panelist and guest that we would have at the event.
As a veteran of the US Air Force and Air National Guard (2E1X1 Satcom Wideband) I learned and experienced the sacrifices of our enlisted and commissioned armed forces. My particular unit the 261st Combat Communications squadron was not tasked with supporting the foreign entanglements in which our nation found itself during my tenure as an enlisted airman but there were a number of domestic TDYs in which I took part. While enlisted I was tasked with both instruction my fellow shop members on the intricacies of my AFSC (or concentration), Satcom Wideband Telemetry and Space Systems and in addition I taught classes in Self Aid Buddy Care for combat scenarios and CPR.
I originally moved to Los Angeles county to pursue a career in entertainment and have been a member of the Screen Actors Guild since 2005. As a member I have been a consistent advocate for workers rights both inside and outside of the entertainment industry. I was a constant participant during the writers guild strike of 2007 but Ive also consistently shown up in solidarity for people outside of the entertainment industry such as port drivers, LAX workers and janitorial workers. I believe that a strong labor sector is essential to the continued possibility of the existence of an equitable society.
I was born in rural Alabama and grew up first in the country outside of Tuskegee University and later in the small city Pensacola, Florida. These experiences and my family members examples shaped the course of my life. At a relatively young age my grandmother lost her husband and my grandfather to suicide and as a result some the love and care that she had reserved for him was instead spread throughout the rural Alabama community in which she lived. I would often accompany her on trips to far flung places, past old plantations, “Indian” burial grounds and down dirt roads. When we arrived at our destination my grandmother would often deliver a plate of food, a bunch of uncooked turnips or mustard greens from her garden or a bag of seeds or other needed supply to an elderly member of the community too enfeebled to do so themselves. In a way similar she would embark on solo trips to county or federal prisons or local jails to visit the sons and grandsons of community members who could not make the trip. When my uncle Kenneth became paralyzed at a young age my grandmother retired early from her job to see to his day to day needs which was a task that my older brother and then later myself would take responsibility for as pre-teens/teens. It was from my grandmother that I also learned how to cook at the age of seven. She was the person that I looked up to most in life so I attempted to learn all of her skills, from planting crops, to cooking and helping the less fortunate to killing rattlesnakes that slithered too close to the house (a skill I never quite mastered). My grandmother never moralized or politicized about these endeavors but they nevertheless left a lasting impression on her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My mother would perform similar acts when she, my two older brothers, my older sister and I moved to Pensacola Florida. Despite my mother’s hectic work schedule she would come to perform many of the same actions that my grandmother did in a rural setting in a metropolitan setting in Pensacola. My mother however was more direct and instructive in her actions. When we gave other kids a ride to church while their parents worked she explained that we were helping and when she assigned summer readings and reports to my sister and I while we were out of school she spoke of the importance of knowing the struggles of our past ancestors so that we would know where we truly stood and how we were valued by the world at large. On numerous occasions cousins, who like us hailed from Alabama, would be invited to come and live in Florida with us where the school system was superior to what was offered in Alabama. All of these individual examples of actions by my grandmother and then my mother crystallized a sense of fairness in my mind which would inform my political identity as it developed through adolescence and into adulthood. People were not entitled to resources and respect because they had earned or deserved them but instead simply because they were people.
All of these experiences have shaped me into an empathetic individual who is not afraid to assert his views but who is intimately aware that his research and experience are not absolute. I am a person who is devoted to making sure that the opinions and experiences of all of the people in a given community are represented and the entities and institutions that hold sway in these communities (government or otherwise) are representatives of the people who live there. I would relish the opportunity to represent the city of Culver City and its multifaceted residency. As a small, diverse and innovative community Culver City can set the standard throughout Los Angeles county for sustainable development, community inclusiveness and equitable governance.
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Daniel Lee for Culver City Council 2016 FPPC #1382120