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Daryl Davis
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Daryl Davis makes it a point to talk with Klansmen

Daryl Davis makes it a point to talk to Klansmen in person. (Photo courtesy Daryl Davis)
LISTEN: Daryl Davis and Zak discuss for to have a civilized conversation with KKK members.

That’s a rather striking picture, isn’t it? While most people try to avoid the KKK, Southern blues musician Daryl Davis has been seeking them out for decades. His goal is simple: He wants to ask questions; He wants to talk.

He spoke to KIRO Nights host Zak Burns.

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Davis engages conversation by actually attending rallies and talking to Klan members in person. Some resist and become violent. He’s had a knife pulled on him. However, others agree, and that’s where Davis thinks progress begins.

The KKK is no longer a centralized organization. Many white supremacists feel the United States of America was founded by and for white people, and any non-Aryan should leave the country or be dealt with by force. Some beliefs are less extreme among the Klan, only calling for segregation. There has been an evolution and splintering among these many factions in recent years.

But Davis makes a direct correlation between the nation’s traditional white supremacists and the modern version: the alt-right.

He says most people who join these groups are just followers, looking for somewhere to belong. Through discussion, however, he tries to get to the root of their bigotry.

He doesn’t try to change their minds, but many do. Davis says he has made friends through the process of interviewing members of the Klan throughout the country.

As far as racial relations in America today, Davis asserts that there is a need to talk to people with whom we disagree and have a discussion.

It’s these discussions with Daryl Davis that have led to many Klansmen becoming former Klansmen.

“When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting,” Davis said. “It’s when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence. So we want to keep this conversation going.”

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