Black Musician Explains Why He Befriends KKK Members: “They Are Human Beings”

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He's 59 years old, African-American, and used to play piano for rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry. He's also unequivocally against white supremacy, and yet he goes out of his way to meet white supremacists. To be more specific, Daryl Davis befriends KKK members -- and sometimes finds a way convince them to leave the group.

Davis has been featured in the past by, among others, the Los Angeles Times and NPR, with the latter of those outlets reporting the two most significant numbers related to the musician's story. Davis told NPR that over the past 30 years of going around the country and meeting Ku Klux Klan members, 200 of those members gave up their robes after befriending him.

After a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia became national news, particularly because of the death of a counter-protester, the Washington Post caught up with Davis to get his thoughts.

He said,

What happened in Charlottesville is why we don't need people collecting KKK robes. We do not need to give anyone ammunition to celebrate their racist past.

While Davis doesn't think "people" should be collecting robes, the musician does exactly that himself. The musician keeps the robes that former Klansmen have handed over to him and keeps them in his Maryland home, the Post reports.

That collection, and the types of conversations that lead to his unique friendships, are at the center of a documentary based on Davis encounters with White Supremacists, titled Accidental Courtesy.

Here's the trailer for the film:

As the Post caught up with Davis, he explained that Charlottesville hasn't made his mission any tougher, saying,

I don't think my job has gotten any harder. They are human beings. Many are good, hard-working people with a skewed perception of life and reality.

Though the LA Times points out that his job "doesn't often work," it's clear that many of the people Davis meets eventually change that "skewed" perception, which gives the musician a truly fascinating story.