Black man befriends KKK leader
Daryl Davis got his degree in music. His band was playing at a “white” truck stop when he had his first encounter with a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The band had just finished with a set, and Davis was sitting at the table when a white guy came and put his arm around Davis’ shoulders.
The man said that he had never heard a black guy play like Jerry Lee Lewis. He invited Davis over to his table for a drink and said that it was the first time he had ever had a drink with a black man. When Davis asked why, the guy showed him his KKK identification.
“Racism has always fascinated me,” says Davis.
Davis kept in touch with the KKK member until the band broke up. Eight years after that, he called the man for some information on the KKK leadership. Davis had decided to write a book.
His meeting with the Grand Dragon and Later Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly went well until Davis thought that Kelly had made a threatening noise. Davis jumped up from his chair and slapped his hands on the table. He stared into Kelly’s eyes. Kelly stared back. Both wondered why the other had made the noise. Kelly’s bodyguard looked at both of them, not knowing what was going on.
The soda cans in the ice bucket shifted, making the threatening noise again. Everyone in the room laughed.
“Ignorance breeds fear… Fear will breed hatred,” says Davis. “Hatred will breed destruction.”
Davis and Kelly became friends after that interview. Kelly would spend time at Davis’ home, and Davis would attend KKK rallies to take notes for his book. CNN did a story on the two men.
Kelly is one of the Klan’s members that have left the Klan after becoming friends with Davis.
Davis says that communication and respect are the key to understanding each other.
“I did not respect what Mister Kelly had to say, but I respected his right to say it,” says Davis.
Davis visited the Salt Lake Community College in honor of Black History Month 2012. He is the author of the book “Klan-Destine Relationships.”
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This article was originally published on examiner.com. Links updated August 2016.
Daryl Davis talks about KKK reasoning for the separation of races.
On YouTube: Davis plays piano at Salt Lake Community College