It’s an unbelievable story, one of those you’d expect to see in some naïve Hollywood comedy but not in the reality of the American south: Daryl Davis, a black musician playing classic R ‘n R not only turns up in Ku Klux Klan rallies as a honored guest of the head of the local organization but when the official gets on his podium to talk he tells his white followers “I respect this black guy more than any of you.”
It all started in 1983 when a member of KKK started a conversation with Mr. Davis after a concert; the conversation went along fine and when the musician realized the other man’s views he made a decision that would change his life: to understand the worldview and the ideas of the members of the KKK through a direct, honest and calm discussion with them. In other words, something the members of anti-racist organizations seldom think to do.
Thirty years and a book about his association with KKK later, Mr. Davis has managed to persuade at least 20 members of the organization to abandon it realizing that their ideology is based on ignorance and insecurity. And he has a closet filled with the white robes and the hoods they give him when they leave as an undeniable proof that personal relationships can overcome even the most extreme prejudices.