The INSIDER Summary:
• Musician Daryl Davis befriends white supremacists in the Ku Klux Klan.
• He says his outreach has spurred 200 KKK members to leave the group.
• A new documentary called “Accidental Courtesy” tells Davis’s fascinating story.
Daryl Davis is an accomplished blues musician who’s played alongside legends like Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. But he’s probably better known for his longtime hobby of making friends with white supremacists.
Davis, 58, has spent years travelling the country and forging friendships with members of the Ku Klux Klan and similar hate groups, the Independent reports. Davis says that because of his efforts, 200 people have renounced their membership in the KKK. Some have even given Davis their ceremonial robes and hoods as a gesture to signify their departure from the group.
Now, Davis’s unusual quest is the subject of a new documentary called “Accidental Courtesy.”
“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?'” he told the Independent. “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.”
Davis’s efforts are controversial, though: Activists from Black Lives Matter, for example, have questioned his choice to speak with white supremacists. And in an interview with the Atlantic, he recounted an episode in which a member of NAACP criticised him, too:
I had one guy from an NAACP branch chew me up one side and down the other, saying, you know, we’ve worked hard to get ten steps forward. Here you are sitting down with the enemy having dinner, you’re putting us twenty steps back. I pull out my robes and hoods and say, ‘look, this is what I’ve done to put a dent in racism. I’ve got robes and hoods hanging in my closet by people who’ve given up that belief because of my conversations sitting down to dinner. They gave it up. How many robes and hoods have you collected?’
Watch the trailer for the film right here: