Since the 1980s, 58-year-old Daryl Davis has traveled America meeting members of the KKK, establishing a dialogue and asking them one simple question: ‘How could you hate me when you don’t even know me?’
Without setting out to covert people, Daryl’s friendship has led to 200 KKK members renouncing the organization, according to the LA Times.
The KKK is a white supremacy cult founded in 1865, which organized members to persecute people for the color of their skin or their religious beliefs. Their violent actions are deplorable, and many Americans prefer not to acknowledge their existence.
Davis, however, took a different approach with the white supremacists, demanding they look him in the eye and tell him to his face why they would lynch him for the color of his skin.
He has documented his encounters and the ensuing friendships he’s made with KKK members in a book, Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan.
The path to friendship has not always run smooth for Davis, though, and he explains that he has been met with violence:
“There have been some incidents in which I was threatened and a couple of instances where I had to physically fight. Fortunately, I won in both instances…These things happen from time to time, but it is to be expected, because you are dealing with someone who hates you and wants to be violent just because of the colour of your skin…Some of them are absolutely repulsed when they see a black person and want to hurt that person. At the core of it, although they won’t at first admit it, they express superiority, but truly feel inferiority and in order to elevate themselves, they have to push someone else down.”
Davis has spent most of his adult lifetime researching the KKK, arming himself with knowledge in the face of their hatred.
He explained: “In fact, I know more about the KKK than most Klan members know about their own organisation. Knowledge, information, wit, and the way you disseminate these attributes can often prove to be a more disarming weapon against an enemy or some with whom your ideology is in conflict, than violence or lethal weapons.”
His efforts to improve race relations have now been documented in a feature-length documentary titled, Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America, and its message could not come at a better time.
Clearly, true friendship doesn’t discriminate.