Man Converts KKK: 'How Can You Hate Me When You Don't Even Know Me?'

Musician Daryl Davis has been befriending KKK members to understand and confront racism and has seen incredible transformations take place as a result.

Daryl Davis is an African-American blues musician, lecturer, author, and race relations expert who has been befriending Ku Klux Klan members for the past 30 years.

As a result of his work, he has changed many minds and hearts, and some people have even denounced the Klan.

The Independent reported on his upcoming documentary, "Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race and America" in which Davis explains that converting the Klan members was never his main intention.

"It’s a wonderful thing when you see a light bulb pop on in their heads or they call you and tell you they are quitting. 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?' I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated."

According to the film's Facebook page, it is due to be released in January 2017 and is set to be screened on PBS in February 2017. Davis has documented his outreach to the Klan before in his book, "Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man's Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan."

Mic reports that Davis attributes the closing of an entire KKK chapter to his work with the hate group.

"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," Davis says. ""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."

As Nazi groups like the so-called "alt-right" and the KKK continue to feel emboldened by the hateful rhetoric from President-elect Donald Trump and government cronies like Stephen Bannon, the bravery of activists like Davis is both humbling and inspiring.

Controversially, Davis actually advocates giving the most racist and prejudiced individuals in our nation the chance to voice their beliefs.

Davis says, "The most important thing I learned is that when you are actively learning about someone else you are passively teaching them about yourself. So if you have an adversary with an opposing point of view, give that person a platform. Allow them to air that point of view, regardless of how extreme it may be. And believe me, I've heard things so extreme at these rallies they'll cut you to the bone."

"Give them a platform. You challenge them. But you don't challenge them rudely or violently. You do it politely and intelligently. And when you do things that way chances are they will reciprocate and give you a platform. So he and I would sit down and listen to one another over a period of time. And the cement that held his ideas together began to get cracks in it. And then it began to crumble. And then it fell apart."

We can't wait to see the film and learn more about Davis' life and process addressing racism in America. His vision certainly offers hope during these exceptionally racist times.

Banner Image Credit: Reuters

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