Black man befriends members of the KKK by asking them one simple question

He never imagined what an impact his words could have.

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  • Daryl Davis, a black blues musician who has worked with performers like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, spent the last three decades doing something rather unexpected. He's been befriending white supremacists.

  • He confronts members of several hate groups - such as the Ku Klux Klan - with one simple question:

  • "How can you hate me if you don't even know me?"

  • "The most important thing I learned is that when you are actively learning about someone else you are passively teaching them about yourself," Davis said in a Love+Radio podcast interview.

  • He said it's important to give everyone a platform to speak and also challenge their way of seeing things.

  • "You don't challenge them rudely or violently," he said. "You do it politely and intelligently. And when you do things that way, chances are they will reciprocate and give you a platform."

  • Davis started befriending members of the KKK in 1983. After playing a gig for an all-white audience in Maryland, Davis was approached by an audience member who complimented his performance.

  • They struck up a friendly conversation, and Davis soon found out that this man was a card-carrying member of the KKK. Through this man, Davis was introduced to Roger Kelly, the former Imperial Wizard of the Klan.

  • As time went on, Davis and Kelly grew close, inspiring Kelly to quit the Klan

  • "[Kelly] no longer believes today what he said," Davis said. "And when he quit the Klan he gave me his robe and hood, which is the robe of the Imperial Wizard."

  • Davis said 12 other members of the KKK followed Kelly's footsteps and left the hate group.

  • "I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan," he told The Independent. "I simply gave them a chance to get to know me."

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  • Davis said it's the hate group members themselves who make the decision the Klan's ideology is no longer for them.

  • He has developed several friendships with former members of the KKK, who all gave him their Klan robes when they decide to leave the group.

  • He now has a garage full of ceremonial robes

  • But his actions have met him with several critics.

  • "People always say to me, 'Darly, how can you have this stuff? Why don't you burn it?'" Davis said in his 2016 documentary, Accidental Courtesy. "As shameful as it is, you don't burn our history."

  • No matter what people might say about him, Davis cannot be swayed.

  • "[Talking to Klansmen] has worked for me and I've proven it," Davis said. "I appeal to people's common sense. I don't seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they can't hate me. [The Klansman see] that I want the same thing for my family as he does for his ... if you can work on the things in common, that's how you build friendship."

  • His hand of friendship hasn't always been reciprocated

  • Davis wrote in his book Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man's Odyssey in the Klu Klux Klan that he has ended up in a few physical fights with members of the KKK - and he won.

  • But overall, he has seen much success. In his three decades of befriending Klansmen, he has "accidentally" persuaded about 200 white racists to abandon the Klan.

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  • While Davis' original goal wasn't to convince Klansmen to leave their groups, he said it's great when it happens.

  • "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," Davis said.

  • Davis is the perfect example that it is possible to put aside your differences and come together as friends. Peace and love is possible, no matter who you are.

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Emily Brady is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She studied Communication with an emphasis in journalism. She loves photography and finding a good book to read in her hammock on a sunny, breezy day.

Website: https://emilyaftonbrady.wordpress.com/

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