daryl davis guts kkk chapters

yesterday, i listened to an episode of the podcast love + radio. the episode was about daryl davis and his somewhat unconventional strategy to shutting down kkk chapters.

the narrative went like this: daryl davis is a black musician in the south. the band he played in had gigs in many all-white music venues. over time, he gained the trust of some klan members who thought he was an amazing musician. he intentionally became friends with them and would let them know whenever he had a show in their town. he began meeting up with high level klan leaders as friends and to interview them. eventually, the klansmen left their klans positions because (via their friendship with daryl) they found that they no longer believed in what the klan stood for.

now, on the one hand, that is a dope pathway to change. if this black guy can shutdown klan chapters by befriending their leaders and then showing them, through years of friendship, that they don’t actually believe what the klan believes, i’m 100% down for that. if the way to end the klan is through love and friendship, i’m here; let’s go.

there was a section where daryl spoke about getting pushback from black leaders in other places. especially one fight he had with an naacp leader. but daryl felt like he ultimately won that argument. his punchline was basically, “i have klan robes and hoods in my closet as trophies of the klan chapters i’ve shut down. how many chapters have you (the naacp) shutdown?”

but, of course, i have questions about the narrative. for example, what did the producers leave out? did daryl have any failures? what’s the emotional toll on daryl (he mentioned he’s sat through some klan meetings where he heard some pretty awful shit)? how the hell did he manage to sit through YEARS of klan meetings? what other elements (if any) contributed to the klan leaders changing their minds about their white supremacist beliefs?

anyway, i’m down for the theory of change, but i want to know more about it before throwing myself or others into the lion’s den.


ps - here’s a link to quotes about daryl’s book, klan-destine relationships.

writing spell-check, link-finding, & formatting
13:03 4:30