Daryl Davis an African American is a blues musician, but he also has what some might call an interesting hobby. For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan and convening them to give their robes of hate and ignorance.
I was playing music — it was my first time playing in this particular bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge and this white gentleman approached me and he says, “I really enjoy you all’s music.” I thanked him, shook his hand and he says, “You know this is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.” I was kind of surprised that he did not know the origin of that kind of music and I said, “Well, where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play that kind of style?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “He learned it from the same place I did. Black, blues, and boogie-woogie piano players.” That’s what that rockabilly, rock ‘n roll style came from.” He said, “Oh, no! Jerry Lee invented that. I ain’t ever heard no black man except for you play like that.” So I’m thinking this guy has never heard Fats Domino or Little Richard and then he says, “You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man?”
Dary Davis’s unique upbringing exposed him to the different cultures of the world. After a childhood spent abroad, where he was educated at international schools attended by people of many races and ethnicities, Davis moved at age ten to a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, where he was one of two black kids in his school.
In 1968, on a statewide Boy Scout march to commemorate the ride of Paul Revere, he was chosen by his troop to carry the American flag. He was also the only black Boy Scout present. When people in the crowd started to hurl bottles, cans, and rocks, he thought to himself, these people must not like the Boy Scouts. In time, he realized that he was the only kid being targeted but he didn’t know why. Upon returning home, his parents explained racism to him for the first time. He couldn’t comprehend that people who knew nothing about him would inflict pain based only on the color of his skin: “I literally thought they were lying to me.”
He credits his approach for helping to dismantle the local Klan. “The three Klan leaders here in Maryland, Roger Kelly, Robert White, and Chester Doles—I became friends with each one of them—when the three Klan leaders left the Klan and became friends of mine, that ended the Ku Klux Klan in the state of Maryland,” he asserted. “Today there is no more Ku Klux Klan in the state. They’ve tried to revive it every now and then but it immediately falls apart. Groups from neighboring states might come in and hold a rally … but it’s never taken off.”
Afro World News