Daniel Carter is a 21-year-old St. Augustine native. A 2015 St. Augustine High School graduate, Daniel has spent most of his life preparing for a future in activism, but it wasn’t until he was 13 years old that he was able to put a name to a burgeoning passion. Daniel was raised along with his older siblings by his father and stepmother in what he calls a typical African-American “God-fearing” community. Daniel spent a lot of time outside, riding his bike, just being a normal kid. Except Daniel knew he was different. From a very early age, Daniel knew he was gay. But being a young, gay black man is not so typical and as a consequence, he was bullied within his own community. He learned to bottle up his emotions and feelings, and instead became an actor of sorts. A straight actor. He worked very hard to blend in.
One day, while riding his bike around, a neighbor invited him in for some free food. “No middle school kid is ever gonna turn down free food!” he said with a laugh. So he went. The neighbor was hosting some members of the local Democratic Party chapter to make phone calls in support of President Obama’s second presidential campaign. Daniel showed an interest in their activities and soon the members had him making phone calls, encouraging people to vote. He was an instant hit. “I just read from a script and since I love to act, I felt like I was just on another stage.” From that day on, Daniel stopped by the party office every day after school, finished his homework, then picked up the phone. Facing the occasional racial slur during his phone calls, he learned quickly that there are many other types of prejudice, judgment, and oppression in the world.
But he also learned how much work goes into a campaign. By 2016, Daniel had a new goal: become a delegate for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. Daniel started a Go Fund Me page, raised enough money for the trip to Philadelphia, and became the second youngest delegate from the state of Florida at the Democratic National Convention. The time spent in Philadelphia was another cog in his wheel of activism, and Daniel recognized a true passion in his life.
Daniel declines to identify himself with a specific political party. He simply prefers to represent “his people.” When I asked for clarification of that statement, he instantly replied, “Anyone who is unloved, anyone who is oppressed or bullied, and anyone who needs someone, anyone to stand up for them and be their advocate.” Daniel’s agenda definitely crosses all lines.
Currently enrolled at St. John’s River State College, Daniel plans to finish his Associates Degree then transfer to FAMU to study sociology. He loves working with children, and while he does not want to be a teacher, he does want to be their voice, their advocate, and mostly, show them they are not alone.
Daniel recently announced via Facebook that he was gay. The relief, for Daniel, was palpable. “A stone that had been pressing down on me my entire life was finally lifted. And I felt free! I want to help others know that freedom.” With a philosophy like that, Daniel’s star could illuminate a new generation of rising stars.
Photography by David Steele