Robin Hood, Baltimore, Jerry Lee Lewis discussed on Amanpour
Featured in a new documentary called accidental courtesy and about his book clandestine relationships Daryl Davis you've been a man who has reached out to members of the KKK KKK. For the past thirty years. Why will you know they're part of America just as well as as I am as much a part American as baseball Apple Pie and Chevrolet? And they've been around since eighteen sixty five. It's about one hundred and fifty years why they're still here in the twenty first century this needs to be addressed. We need to come together in a we are to divide it right now and as we volved we cannot afford to become more and more divided as our country becomes more and more diverse. So what do you do with them. When you meet someone on from the clan we have a conversation we have civil discourse? I'm here to hear what their concerns are with. Their fears are what myths have set them off and hopefully to dispel. Some of those fears. Is your goal to try to get them to leave the clan. You know my my goal was was was never to convert them. A lot of the media says Black Musician converts x number of clansman. I never converted one but over. Two hundred have left that the white supremacy movements. Because I have been the impetus for that I give them information. They think about the process and they come to their own decision to change my way of thinking here. So I've been responsible for that. Yes but I don't want to say that. I converted them. They converted themselves. I'm just the conduit to lead them in that direction. This all started what country bar thirty actors after Music Gig playing the piano and then I joined a country band and I was only black guy in the band and usually the only black person where we would play and this particular bar was known as an all white bar not meeting that blacks could not matt go in but did not go in by their own choice and it was a good choice because they were not welcome and I came off the bandstand with the band and and I was following them to the table on a break and I felt somebody put their around. My shoulder and gentleman said to me man. I sure like Europeana plan. This is the first time I heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lewis. Now I was kind of taken aback without offended but I was surprised because this sky was fifteen eighteen years older than me and he didn't know the black origin of Jerry. Lee Lewis Tilapia playing. And I said well. What do you think Julia Louis? Learn how to play. She says what are you talking about. I said he learned from the simple as I did from Black Blues and Boogie. woogie piano players that's where rockabilly and rock and roll. Okay from all black men. Play like that if you know Jerry Lee Lewis. He's a good friend of mine. He's told me himself where he learned how to play the guy. Oh I didn't buy that. I knew Jerry Lee him by the jury learning from black people but it was fascinated and went to buy me a drink now went back to his table. I had a cranberry juice eighteen glass and clinks glass and he cheers me and he says you know. This is the first time I sat down with the black man now. He's he's making some kind of proclamation. This guy I was in total disbelief. I said why I didn't answer me. I asked him began. Dan Tell them tell them. Tell them I said tell me he wants me he said I'm a member of the Ku Klux Klan. I burst out laughing often because I did not believe them. I got joking man. 'cause I know a lot about the plan they'll come around. Put their arm around your shoulder. WanNa buy you a drink and hang out with you if you're black an an out so I'm laughing at him along with this joke. He goes inside his pocket pulls out his wallet and gave me His clan. Membership Card Allahdad. ooh This is for real. You know stop laughing and I gave it back to him and we talked about the plan things but that was the start of Mike West. I'd had a racist experience as a child at age. Ten which people had thrown rocks at me and bottles. I didn't understand it always was because of the taller my skin. Nothing I had done nothing I had said and so I had formed that question in my mind. How can you hate me? We don't even know. Oh me and I've been looking for the answer and so after meeting this guy. It didn't dawn on me that night but later. Donny Daryl the answer it's a fell right into your lap. WHO Better to ask that question of than someone who would go so far as the join an organization and that has over one hundred year history of practicing hating people who do not look like them who do not believe as they believe? Go back to that Guy Guy and and get the answer to you went back. You know he'd give me his number and stuff and I went back. I went back to him and I said you know what I'm GonNa go around around the country and interview members leaders and ask that question. Write a book on it. You also go out of your way to say that after these conversations conversations you are their friend. That's right even if they might not be yours. That's right. Why why put them into that category? Because I try to illicit I said the good and everybody at the end of the day we all human beings and I prove that I'm their friend. They don't have anything to fear from me now now and they realized that later on which is why at the end when they find it. Come to that conclusion even leaders as well as you know. Rank and file members numbers all the way to the top grant. Dragons which are state leaders imperial wizards which are national leaders ended up giving me their robes and hoods this this is a clan hood from an imperial wizard as the hood. That's the mask members anonymity they wear this mask and people through these islets if they don't care that their identity is exposed the masses attached by three snaps just detach it in the faces. Exposed goes under the hood and here is the corresponding a robe. This is the robe of an imperial wizard. Seeing seeing that is going to draw some viewers to possibly turn the interview off. It's going to trigger them a sense of fear a sense of sadness hatred. Lots of things are rolled up just in that time. See that's what we we need to overcome. This is nothing but a piece. Uh of material yes. It invokes fear because we allow ourselves to be afraid of this piece of material there or people who wear a shirt and tie a suit a uniform with a badge. Done judge's Robe Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts us who feel the exact same way as somebody wearing this robin hood earliest. I know exactly where that person's decisely. I've been doing this for thirty years. And I've seen them in their regular street clothes. And then I've seen them dawn their robes and hoods and all of a sudden they feel powerful. Okay it's like a I can't mild mannered reporter becomes Superman all right. I've seen that transformation because racism itself doesn't pay the bills precisely. They have to have steady jobs right there. Members of our society and guess what they are teachers they. They're on the school board. They work at the grocery store or some of them are even on the police department. I have a former Baltimore city. Police officer's uniform and his robinhood he was the Grand Dragon. Ah which means state leader. His Day job paid his bills was a Baltimore city. Police officer not an undercover over officer in the clan gathering intelligence but a bonafide clansman on the Baltimore City Police Force and they're and they're more. Okay now he went onto become my best friend. One of my best friends had today. I own his Robin Hood and his police uniform. He gave up that ideology geology. And it's a result of civil discourse talking with one another given to know one another getting that exposure. You know you don't have have in the film about you. It shows a scene for example when you talk to different types of groups. ESPN the southern poverty. Law Center the individual there. Because you know our goal is to wipe out out groups like this and I'm sure you've heard this critique from other members of the civil rights community what you're doing isn't really helping us you know what this person person says to you and their process of befriending you over time. Well that's not destroying this group. That's not destroying the ideology. That's not taking the hate out of the system. That's not taking the injustice out of the the system is this a great use of your time is absolutely a great use of my time and you know what the SP L. C.. Does is the. Yeah the the man said he wanted to destroy the clan. I'm not to destroy individuals. I like to see them. Destroy their own the ideology which is what this guy when he gave up that road. When you seek to destroy somebody all you do is empower them because they feel like you see you? They they they. They don't want us to have our rights to feel the way we wanna feel and they they get more and more emboldened and more and more empowered. Now now if they crossed the line right and do something wrong you absolutely take him to court and you sue them you put them in jail. You punish them but you don't destroy the person these are my fellow. Americans is my fellow human beings. I want them to see something and come to the realization. Hey you know what. This is a better path for me and I'm going to help get other people out of there. I have a lot of neo Nazis Former Neo Nazis and kick AKA members an outright members who come out with me sometimes and speak out against the former organization musician and work hard to pull others out and prevent others from joining. There's also seen in the film a very tense when it starts a conversation with young black lives matters leaders in Baltimore and they gets heated very quickly so stop wasting your time going into people's houses that don't love you a house. They want to throw you under the basement so you believe that nobody can change. I believe you will leave the wrong people can change and I know the conversation lasted an hour in real life but in these eight minutes you can see the tension it's palpable and they're saying you know what while you were out doing this over your thirty years befriending a few dozen people and getting their robes we are are here suffering the injustices that are why. Why aren't you doing that for this city? Why aren't you spending your time in this way where you could be making a real impact on the lives? Lives of all of these people that you want to. If I were to open up a magazine or go on the Internet and see a picture of a black man shaking hands with a man and a Robin Hood but you see tons of pictures of me on the Internet like that. I would have a visceral reaction. What's going on here sold out? Yeah Ah but knowing me I would want to read the back story to find out. Why is this taking place?.