Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi showed us that progress can be made through peaceful ways. Daryl Davis is the latest hero to join their ranks. He is an African American man who began befriending white supremacists three decades ago. But don’t worry, there is method to his madness.
He had a simple goal — through befriending white supremacists, he wanted to know ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’ After interacting with Davis, 200 Ku Klux Klansmen have left the white supremacist group over the past 30 years. As they say, friendship is magic.
Singing the Blues
Meet Daryl Davis, a 58-year-old blues musician. What makes him unusual is that he has an unconventional hobby. For the past three decades he has traveled across America befriending white supremacists of the Ku Klux Klan. Eventually, many convert and leave the white supremacist group. In turn, Mr Davis symbolically collects their white hoods along the way.
He states that he tries to bring the humanity out of people. His documentary, Accidental Courtesy, captures the riveting tale of one man who sets out to change the world for the better. Mr Davis eloquently sums up his views on the world: “We all are human beings at the end of the day.” Perhaps we should ask Mr Davis to befriend Steve Bannon.
Apples and Oranges
He sure is succeeding thus far. But that is not to say that there haven’t been a few hitches along the way. Daryl Davis states that he has got into a few altercations during his travels. All of which he won, proclaims the brazen activist. He sure is tough in all senses of the word.
Amazingly, he even managed to win over unapologetic racists like National Socialist Movement chairman Jeff Schoep. Mr Schoep appears early in Accidental Courtesy advocating for white separatism. However, a later clip depicts Schoep sharing a laugh and a handshake with Davis over the origins of rock ‘n’ roll and peanut butter. You could even say the two are like peanut butter and jelly now.
Yellow Brick Road
Davis is no stranger to criticism from those in the African-American community over his unconventional work with the KKK. Moreover, he has had fierce showdowns with prominent members of the Black Lives Matter movement such as Kwame Rose. In fact, heightened tensions almost led to a physical altercation.
The musician-turned-activist states that he isn’t taking sides, but the nation is getting smaller through greater connectivity, therefore, it is important to get along. At the end of the day, we don’t have to agree on everything, but mutual respect is needed. The urgency of the situation and the need for change is best summarized by a quote from the trailblazer himself:
The best way for us to be defeated is by dividing and conquering, and we are a very divided nation right now.