When one utilizes their voice to uplift and bring visibility to those undervalued and neglected, what does one call them? A leader? An activist? Yet when an individual employs the power of media to illuminate further and delve into such marginalized issues, they become much more than just “a man of their word” but of action. As a social activist, one leaves behind a digital footprint to inform, support, and empower their peers and community. And Danny Morrison is one (amongst many) that has exceeded the expectations of what social activism means, let alone how it impacts lives.
From Bakersfield, California, Morrison gradually became a devoted and active member of Black media to uplift the lost, the incarcerated, and the poor Black and Brown families that remained “downtrodden [and] neglected” for generations. However, his journey into this ministry is far from simple. At a young age, Morrison witnessed firsthand the hardships of a single mother raising six children and the daily struggle to keep the lights on and food on the table, meanwhile observing the “struggles and perils of gang affiliation” that persisted in spoiling the streets of Kern County well into his adulthood. Bakersfield’s overwhelming racial discrimination and the excessive force of its police department had only affirmed that the city had failed to address the longstanding practices that exploit and victimize its Black residents. According to The Guardian, police in Kern County had killed more people per capita than in any other American county. With such an unpleasant detail, it is easy to acknowledge and appreciate Morrison’s inspiration to reveal these injustices and disparities and “fight against them,” he declares passionately.
Perpetually enticed by the media realm, Morrison initially became interested in becoming a radio personality, connecting with his listeners through music. Although securing a radio job and gaining experience five days a week, his eagerness to “do a little something on the mic,” he shares with a reminiscent expression, continued to be a looming yet attainable goal. After making an impression with The Rhythm of the Valley (HOT 94.1) in 1999, he eventually became the permanent host of his own radio, “Between the Sheets,” “Street Party,” and more by playing slow jams and bridging the gap between radio and its loyal listeners for over two decades. Recognizing slow jams no longer encouraged traffic and interest, Morrison decided to perfect his craft elsewhere.
Later on, with Forge 103.9 Radio, Morrison was finally blessed with a platform that enabled him to collaborate with community advocates and local talent while facilitating drives and ensuring that the Bakersfield community was being served, seen, and heard. “If I’m gonna do this,” he declares enthusiastically, “I’m going to use my voice!” This shift in his focus and objective to use his voice to empower the voiceless and hold his peers accountable sparked creativity within forms of media (radio, music production, and videography) to capture the essence of what it sounds, looks, and feels like to be Black, overlooked, and powerless. From HOT 94.1 to Forge 103.9 Radio, Morrison notably pushed for recognition and awareness of “what’s going on in the community,” henceforth creating socially conscious media like Self Destruction 2.0 in 2016 and the Eracism Project in 2019 that addressed the ostracization of Black people, and even more urgently the staggering death count to police violence. His visions and mechanisms prove void of the desire for monetary gain and, instead, the determination to impact the youth. He resolves, “Chasing clicks and streams only dilutes Black dreams.”
After changing the culture of Bakersfield, Morrison found that he had an audience and support system in Los Angeles clamoring for him to bring his brand and talents to a new stage. By fortune, KBLA Talk 1580 had hoped to bring on an intelligent and politically driven host for one of their new Black radio dayparts, and quickly thereafter, they found the ideal candidate. Once he produced and recorded different commercials for multiple markets to prove his abilities, his potential to deliver further affirmed that “God had given [him] that talent to help uplift [his] people.” It wasn’t long until Morrison’s visions and strides within his career permitted him to continue to uphold his need “to do something bigger in the Media,” and essentially, “something that one can relate to.”
Now, with Midday with Danny Morrison, he had accomplished just that! On the radio show, one can fully witness how Morrison uses the microphone and the many media components to hold his peers accountable, from the community to the systems that exploit them. He explains the creative process behind his content, sharing, “The conversations that I am having are the same conversations that Black people are having at their kitchen tables with their families and kids,” therefore emphasizing this need to normalize this sharing of uncomfortable and challenging dialogue amongst the community. From incarceration and poverty to abortion, one can recognize “that the same problems affecting Black people in Bakersfield and Kern County are the same problems affecting Black people in Los Angeles.” By breaking these generational curses and taboos, we as a community can work together to inform and empower one another to address the subjugation of Black life and living that prevents us from thriving in our Blackness. In other words, let’s proactively talk about the things that impact us! Preceding his success and impact with prison visits and engaging with inmates at Bakersfield (and eventually Los Angeles), he has further advocated for the cessation of violence amongst Black and Brown communities and provided guidance for those needing counsel and resources. His desires to touch communities from Compton, Watts, Leimert Park, and so forth prove how boundless Morrison’s dreams and ambitions are!
In the next few months, Morrison does not plan to stop! In hopes of encouraging young Black people to attend community college, he is partnering with Dr. Sonya Christian (new California Community Colleges Chancellor) to launch “The California Community Colleges Black Student Success Network!” With a primary focus on community colleges in Los Angeles but even more of a focus on the failed Black youth that has been discouraged and underserved in education, its residents would benefit significantly from the program. “The possibilities are endless,” Morrison exclaims, showing excitement for the connections, changes, and visibility that will finally get the administrators, professors, and students of the community involved. Moreover, the new platform, Danny Morrison Media, will be a source to highlight non-profit organizations and Black-owned businesses that coincide with his new movement #BolsterBlackLA! He ends, summarizing his hopes for these visions, “I want to help uplift Black LA and give people an outlet. I want to strengthen Black-owned businesses and give young Black people a resource where they can enhance their own lives, and once again bringing forward those kitchen table topics that maybe not a lot of people are talking about. All I want to do is use my platforms and my talents to help.” Morrison’s efforts are nothing short of inspirational and progressive, and he won’t give up anytime soon.