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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell has found a way to honor his childhood hero, Bruce Lee.

He is working with Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, to create a Bruce Lee Action Museum — known as BLAM! — to honor the action-movie star’s legacy and teachings.

“We really want to showcase the legacy of action, which I believe is my father’s real legacy,” Lee said.

That action refers to more than just his movies, she said. It includes his social, cultural and philosophical contributions.

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The Hong Kong Association of Washington’s annual Chinese New Year celebration last Saturday benefited the museum. Museum organizers hope to use money raised at the dinner and elsewhere to purchase a building in the International District by the end of the year.

There are no cost estimates yet for the project.

While Bruce Lee is best known for his action movies, he also taught martial arts and the accompanying philosophies of unity and acceptance. He attended the University of Washington, but never graduated, and was buried in Seattle after his death in 1973.

Shannon Lee, president of the Bruce Lee Foundation, approached Harrell in 2008 about opening a museum, but the project was put on hold during the financial crisis.

Now, they hope to create a community gathering space and tourist attraction that will include Bruce Lee memorabilia, libraries housing his writings, martial-arts training spaces and interactive exhibits.

They hope it will host events, such as shows and lecture series.

“What I envision is an empowerment center, where we can teach adults and young adults the concept of discipline, focus and pride,” said Harrell, who is running for mayor.

The museum will rely largely on private donations and admission fees, although Harrell said he is prepared to ask the city to help out, if needed.

The museum is in the works as former University of Washington students are separately planning a Bruce Lee community peace garden on campus.

“It just seems like my father is still very relevant, if not more relevant than ever, as the world becomes a more global community and his teachings are touching so many people,” Lee said.

As a linebacker at the University of Washington, Harrell said, he idolized Lee as a fellow Asian athlete. He watched Lee’s movies, bought posters and practiced being quick, just like Lee.

“I’m probably one of Bruce Lee’s biggest fans,” Harrell said. “So to be able to work with his former wife and his daughter is just a dream come true.”

Sarah Freishtat: 206-464-2373


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