By Emily Glory Peters
The years surrounding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968 were momentous in the U.S. The civil rights movement sparked significant legislative shifts, impacting everything from employment discrimination to fair housing to immigration rights.
The importance of these reforms is still evident today in Christian Daly, longtime San Gabriel Valley resident. A child of an Afro-Belizean immigrant, Daly experienced virtual homelessness and witnessed first-hand the injustice of a discriminatory government. Only after watching his dad wage (and ultimately win) a lengthy legal battle did Daly conclude, like Dr. King, that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“I initially wanted to become an attorney to fight for the ‘little guy,’” said Daly, 30, who after becoming the first in his family to graduate university helped launch Operation ACE, an initiative to help fellow underrepresented students attend college. But as he finished his master’s in public policy, a father-son chat changed his mind.
“I told him helping your community was like moving sand on a beach. An attorney could help one shovel at a time, but public policy can move that sand with a bulldozer,” said Daly. “That’s when I knew what I wanted to do.”
Today, Daly serves as the assistant field deputy for L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. He keeps his ear to the ground, collecting feedback from the community to inform policy changes county-wide and connecting residents, businesses and nonprofits to critical services. His community impact was even recently recognized with a commendation from the SGV Chamber of Commerce—emblematic of Daly’s hope for government and the importance of representation within it.
“Everyone in our community, no matter their ethnicity or position, should have a chance to add to the conversation,” he said. “If I can help even one person be heard, that’s mission accomplished for me.”