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Darryl Davis 150

Darryl Davis

 

Darryl Davis speaker is The Klan Whisperer.

‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’ At ten years old Darryl was the only black Cub Scout marching in the otherwise all-white parade. He formed his simple yet powerful question after he was pelted by rocks and bottles by white spectators. That was Darryl’s first encounter with racism.

Darryl Davis pursued an answer to his own question in a lifelong quest. His career as a professional musician with a degree in music had led him on journey playing with Chuck Berry and the former Muddy Waters Band. It also led him to an extraordinary chance encounter that changed his life.

This extraordinary journey began at a gig with a band one night in a bar. A man approached Darryl and told him that it was the first time he’d ever seen a Black man play piano like the great Jerry Lee Lewis. Darryl was a friend of Jerry Lee and he explained that both of them were influenced deeply by the blues and by boogie-woogie pianists – all part of the tradition from which rock’n’roll and rockabilly came.

Conversation with the man in the bar got around to a further revelation – that the inquisitive character was also an active member of the Ku Klux Klan. This one random meeting, and then those that followed would lead Daryl on a journey around America meeting leaders and members of the Klan, neo-Nazi and alt-right groups at his own home and theirs and at their rallies. Many became friends. Some came to quit the Klan and often they gave Daryl their robes when they did. He now has more than twenty-five. It’s a process that has unearthed truths about conflict, hate, intolerance, and communication. The whole extraordinary journey was told in his Darryl’s book, Klan-Destine Relationships and in the 2016 documentary film Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America. His next book, The Klan Whisperer will be published in 2021.

For his work Darryl Davis is recipient of awards that include the American Ethical Union’s Elliott-Black Award, the Carnegie-Mellon’s Carl Sagan Award, MLK Award, the Tribeca Disruption Innovation Award, Search for Common Ground Award, the Washington Ethical Society Bridge-Builder Award, and many others.

As a speaker, Daryl’s impact can be profound and his TEDx talk has now had over ten million views. He helps audiences to overcome their fears, to confront their prejudices and the recognize similarities in each other whilst still appreciating our differences. For those of us seeking to understand diversity and to understand others Darryl Davies has a gripping story to tell.

 
 

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