Hoodies Up! Meet Do Something Awards Finalist Daniel Maree [INTERVIEW]

Photo: (Do Something Awards)

Photo: (Do Something Awards)

We get excited every time the Do Something Awards comes around, but this year’s show is going to be especially amazing. MTV Act favorite and nerd prom queen Sophia Bush is hosting the show, and stars like Lucy Hale,  Kelly Osbourne, J. Cole, and Jennifer Hudson are scheduled to attend! The best part of the night, however, involves 5 young finalists who are in the running for $100,000 for their world-changing organizations.

All of the finalists are 25 years old or younger, which makes their accomplishments even more inspiring. Because you can help vote for the activist you want to win the $100,000, we wanted to introduce you to the do-gooders. We’ve interviewed each finalist, so read up, choose your favorite, and scroll down to the end to see how you can vote for your favorite. Even if your choice doesn’t win, it’s not all bad: the four nominees who don’t take home the grand prize will receive a $10,000 community grant for their organizations!

Daniel Maree grew up as a black male in a predominantly white neighborhood in Florida, where he frequently felt profiled because of his race. After Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, the 25-year-old knew he needed to take action, and thus the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice was born. Daniel’s organization collected over two million signatures on a petition to have George Zimmerman arrested. To date, more than 50,000 people have participated in Million Hoodies rallies across the country.

Check out the interview below to find out what song Daniel likes to volunteer to (Hint: HOVA!), what you need to know about Million Hoodies, and why he wants Kendrick Lamar to Tweet at him.

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Photo: Hoodies up! Daniel in action at a rally. (Facebook)

ACT: Who is your Do Something role model?

DANIEL: Nelson Mandela a.k.a Madiba a.k.a Tata Mandela

ACT: What is your favorite song to volunteer to?

DANIEL: Jay-Z’sCrown.”

ACT: What are your words to live by?

DANIEL: The harder I work, the luckier I get.

ACT: What do we need to know about your organization?

DANIEL: Millionhoodies is a multiracial alliance of concerned citizens, civil society organizations, and community leaders who are fed up with the unprecedented levels of unrestrained violence directed at young people of color in this country.

We leverage the power of social media, creative technology, performance art, and multimedia to elevate the profile of victims and families who have lost loved ones as a result of racial profiling and senseless gun violence. Our work recognizes that the conditions that caused the death of Trayvon Martin and many others like him are deeply embedded in institutional injustice and structural violence.

ACT: How can someone reading this get involved with your organization?

DANIEL: Visit Millionhoodies Movement for Justice to join the movement and take action!

ACT: You wake up with a world-changing superpower. What is it? 

DANIEL: The ability to fill people with empathy, compassion and love. I believe we can solve every pressing global issue and heal every wound simply by having compassion and understanding. If I had a superpower it would be to make people love one another and give them the ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes. Without empathy there can be no understanding. Without understanding there can be no justice. Without justice there can be no peace.

ACT: You wake up to a tweet from your favorite celeb offering to help your cause. Who is it and why are you freaking out? 

DANIEL: Kendrick Lamar. Because he is smart, young, and from a rough neighborhood. He is the perfect person for young people of color to believe in, listen to, and follow!

For the first time ever, you can now vote for your favorite finalist via SMS. To vote for Daniel to win the $100,000 grand prize, text: DAN to 38383.  If you want to help fight racism and gun violence, check out our Increase the Peace series. You can also find out more at Million Hoodies Movement for Justice or by scrolling to the action widgets below.

Tune in to the 2013 Do Something Awards on VH1 tonight at 8/7c.

take action

Million Hoodies Movement

Million Hoodies Movement

Get involved with the Millionhoodies Movement for Justice, which helps to protect and empower young people of color.

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Trayvon Martin Foundation

Trayvon Martin Foundation

Get involved with the Trayvon Martin Foundation!