Would You Ever Take Serious Action to Help End Racism? (This Black Musician Did, And 200 Klansman Left the Order)

Daryl Davis with former KKK Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly. (Photo: Daryl Davis)

*There’s a changing sign down the hill and around the corner from my house. It is a part of a school, but to make it less easy for you to judge it, I won’t mention its name. Each week I have grown to look forward to the message they ceremoniously place on the board each Monday. The author of the quote is never revealed. They must feel the exact way I do about giving too much information.

Homo sapiens. We’re an interesting bunch.

Anyway, one week the sign read “If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse.”

I knew the time would come when that quote would be useful to me. It’s now, as I repeat the headline question: Would you ever take serious action to help end racism?

Now I’m no fool. It’s a complicated, multi-leveled, systematic, centuries-old thing, racism. I realize that. But humor me as you put your comments in the box below; because I’m one of those people who actually believes (and have witnessed) change happen one person at a time.

What started this whole thinking process? Daryl Davis. He reminds me of myself: Curious as hell when something so ludicrous presents itself to me. As opposed to just automatically judging it, before I eliminate it entirely and move on, I try to figure out where the hell it came from. What was the logic behind it? Did the person think of what will happen next (obviously Roseanne Barr didn’t)? If so, what did that look like in their mind?

But even in the process, I start with me. In a sincere effort to understand, I realize I’ve got work to do; like recognizing and letting go of my own ego. You know, the one that’s in my mind screaming, “I don’t give a f*ck if you like me or not. I don’t like YOUR ass either!” Then the judgement, as you can imagine its first starts with race, then goes on to everything I have seen, heard and at times, felt about the race in question.

Oh it can get ugly.

Now I doubt Daryl Davis, who has jammed with some of the mist recognized names in music including Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King, gave one damn about whether white folk — as a race anyway — liked him or not. I’ll let you read the background on his full story, I am just dealing with what inspired me to write about it.

Davis had been playing his R&B and blues at a country music bar in 1983. Upon finishing, he says a white man who was probably in his 40’s approached him saying, “Man, I like you all’s music!”  and offered to buy him the drink.

Here’s where things got interesting.

The man told Davis this was the first time he had ever sat down and had a drink with a Black man.

Baffled, Davis asked the man “Why?” and his answer was because he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Davis said the man looked at him just “as plain as day,” when he made that statement.

From that moment on Davis, spurred by the thought: “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?” a question he said he had pondered for 49 years, decided this might be the way his question could finally get answered. Sh he decided to go on a journey — a risky one at that — talking to KKK members who would answer that question for him.

“If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse.”

Fast forward to many years, experiences and a book later, Davis’ BFF, by his own admission, became Roger Kelly — the man he had met in that bar long ago was now a “former Klansman” who was, at the time, the Grand Dragon State Leader in Maryland; who then rose to the level of Imperial Wizard (National Leader) before leaving the Klan.

Davis used Kelly’s status to introduce him to other Klan members for interviews. Talk about going to the source! The Maryland Chapter, once very large, actually disengaged after the experiences of these two men, and never to this day, re-emerged.

In fact, to this day, the two men remain tight. Davis is actually the Godfather to Kelly’s daughter.

In Unfiltered the podcast where an interview with Daryl Davis can be heard, one of the hosts explain that it was never Daryl Davis’ “mission” to get people out of the Klan. 

He just wanted to talk.

See, that’s a huge point. Many people are so disgusted and turned off by what we already know — or think we know — we are consumed by emotion and anger and never get to that point.

“In the process of seeking these answers, I began to see people, over time, rescind their beliefs. And the next thing I know, the ideology was being shed, and I ended up with robes and hoods,” Davis says in the interview.

Realizing he must be “on to something,” Davis kept going with the interviews and said the robes and hoods kept coming.

One of the robes Davis talks about is from a Wizard who went to prison for 4 years for conspiring to bomb a synagogue. 

Davis explains that as a Klansman, you have to have a regular job. This man, he explains, was a bonafied police officer on the Maryland Police force

What he learned from KKK members…

“I learned that they are human beings, and oftentimes they care about the same things that I care about. We each may have a different idea on how to go about getting those things. I’m more inclusive of everybody, where he was more exclusive of people who just look like him.”

Now see, that’s big. That’s  core right there. 

Davis says the media totally misrepresented what happened in Charlottesville.

What they’re trying to put across is that the alt-right and these people were down in Charlottesville to protest the removal of the Robert R. Lee statue. That is false. Their purpose there, was to initiate the beginning steps of a race-war. And I know that for a fact, because I know some of these people.

U.S. CENSUS FACT: By the year 2042, non-white people will rule the populous of America.

Klansman, Neo-Nazi’s and the alt-right, who Davis says is all one just using different names, expressed a fear of this census fact when speaking with the musician. 

Davis says that as we get closer to that year, we will see rising incidents of racial discord.

“Now that we’ve had all of this experience, shame on us if we don’t put what we’ve learned to good use.”–Daryl Davis

FACT: Black Lives Matter did not support Davis’ work with the KKK, as seen in the documentary, “An Accidental Courtesy,” a documentary about race relations in America. See trailer here. Apparently, it was not until recently, that this changed and BLM and Davis came together.

“When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”–Darryl Davis

Listen to the podcast here and hear why Davis feels Trump, a man he did not support, is “the best thing” to happen to America. He also talks about the first KKK robe he got. It’s classic!

You’ve read, listened and thought about this, right? Please leave your comments, unfiltered, in the comments section below. Thank you for indulging me.


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