For three decades, blues musician Daryl Davis has traveled around the U.S., seeking out white supremacists at every turn in hopes of changing their minds.
Now, Davis states that he’s convinced roughly 200 white supremacists to leave the Ku Klux Klan by befriending them. A new documentary about Davis even features the 58-year-old sitting down next to cloaked Klansmen and joking around.
“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,” said Davis. “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?'”
An author, actor, and lecturer as well as a musician, Davis “simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated. They come to their own conclusion that this ideology is no longer for them… I am often the impetus for coming to that conclusion and I’m very happy that some positivity has come out of my meetings and friendships with them”
“Music absolutely played a massive role in bridging many gaps in the racial divides I would encounter,” Davis continued. Known for his energetic piano style, Davis has played with musicians ranging from Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis to Bruce Hornsby and Bill Clinton.
But now, Davis’ work among white supremacists will surely be his greatest legacy. The new documentary on his work, Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America (view trailer above), premiered earlier this month.