Daryl Davis is a black blues musician who has traveled the country for the last 30 years befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan.
This mission is not out of any sort of misplaced empathy with the organization’s racism – the 58-year-old believes that when Klansmen actually sit down and talk with a black man, they will find that their hatred is misplaced – and he’s usually right.
A Grammy award-winning musician himself, Davis has often used rock and roll as a platform to interact with racists. His affinity for Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Muddy Waters has reportedly helped give common ground to conversations with white supremacists.
Though the majority of Daryl’s encounters have ended in empathy and greater racial understanding, only two have turned sour. His preparation for these violent encounters, however, has helped him successfully defend against the attackers. One ended up in jail – the other, in the hospital.
“I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan. I just set out to get an answer to my question: ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’” Daryl told the Daily Mail. “I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated. They come to their own conclusion that this ideology is no longer for them. I am often the impetus for coming to that conclusion and I’m very happy that some positivity has come out of my meetings and friendships with them.”
Accidental Courtesy is Davis’s new feature-length documentary that follows his racial exploits around America. The film has already been given awards by the Nashville Film Festival and the SXSW film festival. His book, Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan, also documents his interactions with the KKK.
(WATCH the interview below)
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