A highlight from Daryl Davis - Healing Hate with Friendship



I have the most amazing guest for you. He is a man that really shows us the possibility of how two disparate sides can come together. His name is Daryl Davis, and he's a black man who is convinced over 200 Ku Klux Klan members to give up their robes by boldly and bravely walking in deep into their lives deep into the heart of the Ku Klux Klan, becoming friends with them and showing them his sheer humanity. Today we're going to hear Daryl's story and learn how it is that he threw his empathy compassion insight and bravery has been able to really embrace a methodology that allows people from opposite sides to come together, learn from one other, become friends heal and grow. Welcome, Daryl. Thank you, Ariel. It's a real pleasure to be here with you. Thank you for having me. It is such a pleasure. You're such an extraordinary human being. Sorry to embarrass you. I am so excited to be able to share your story and your insights today. Oh, it's my pleasure and I hope your listeners will enjoy it. Thank you. Why don't you begin by telling us the backstory to how and why you were able to penetrate the clan? Okay, I'm age 62 currently. And as a child, my parents were in the U.S. foreign service. So I spent a lot of my formative years starting at the age of three, and on through elementary school, traveling abroad, living in various foreign countries. You go to a country for two years, then you come back home here to the states, and then you're reassigned to another country. So back and forth back and forth during my formative years. While overseas, my classes in elementary school and things like that were filled with kids from all over the world. Anybody who had an embassy in those countries out of their children went to the same school. So my classmates were Nigerian Italian Russian Japanese French, you name it if they had an embassy there. I was in school with their kids. And to me, that was the norm. That was my first exposure to school. And so when I would come back home at the end of the two year assignment, I would either be in all black schools or black and white schools, meaning the still segregated schools or the newly integrated ones. What year was this? Well, I left Chicago shortly after I was born. But we would come back and we would be like in Washington, D.C. or we'd be in Massachusetts, different places for a short time before being reassigned. Every other two years. So I was back. I know I was back for part of the second grade. I was back for a fourth grade. I was back in 6th grade, and I was back here in 8th grade. When I would come back to schools were either all black or black and white, meaning still segregated or nearly integrated. And there was not the amount of diversity in my classroom that I had overseas. So in one case, I was in fourth grade, 1968. I was ten years old. And I was one of two black children in the entire school. Myself in fourth grade and a little black girl in second grade. So consequently all of my Friends were white. And many of my male friends were members of the local cub scout group. And they invited me to join, which I did. And during a march we had from Lexington to Concorde to commemorate the riot of Paul Revere. Suddenly I was being pelted with sort of pop bottles and cans and Ross and Joseph debris from the street by just a small group of the white spectators on the sidewalk. Not everybody. Most of those people were cheering us and waving. And all that kind of thing. But there were about maybe 5 people off to my right. I remember there being a couple of kids, perhaps a year or two older than myself and a couple of adults who were throwing things. And when I first began getting hit and looked over and saw this, my first thought was, oh, those people over there don't like the scouts. That's how naive I was. Because I had never been through that kind of thing before. And it wasn't until my scout leaders came rushing over and these were white people, my den mother, my club leader, my troop master, and they huddled over me with their bodies and escorted me out of the danger. And I realized then that I was the only person being targeted because nobody else was getting this special protection. And I asked him, I said, why am I being here? Why are they doing this? I didn't do anything. And all they would do was kind of shush me and rush them along, telling me everything would be okay, just keep moving. And so they never answered the question. At the end of the day, when I returned home, my mother and father who were not at the parade were fixed me up cleaning me up putting band aids on me and asked me, how do I fall down and get all scraped up? I told them I didn't fall down until the what had happened. And this was the first time in my life that I heard the word racism. They explained what racism was to me. And my ten year old brain could not process this definition. It made no sense to me whatsoever. I'd been around white people from all over the world at this point. And none of them, whether they were my fellow Americans, my French friends, my Swedish friends, my Australian friends, none of them treated me like this. So my parents were making this up because people don't do things like that. And the issue that not all white people do this, but there is an element of some they do. And I just could not wrap my head around it. So I didn't believe them. Well, about almost two months later, that same year, 1968, on April the fourth, Martin Luther King was assassinated. And every major city in this country burned to the ground. All in the name of this new word that I had learned called racism. So then I understood that this phenomenon does exist. But I did not understand why. Why are people raise this? What makes them that way? So I formed a question in my mind at that age, which was how can you hate me when you don't even know me? And now, for 52 years since then, I've been looking for the answer to that question. So how better would you get an answer and who better to go to to get it from, then somebody who would go so far as to join an organization whose whole premise has been now for a 155 years practicing hating people who don't look like them or who do not believe as they believe. So I began to question Klan members and clan leaders to get the answer to this question. And as a result, not only did I get some answers, but I also changed some minds along the way. Now, I don't like to say that I converted them what I want to say is that I was the impetus for them to rethink their ideology. And then they would make the change or make the conversion themselves. I planted the seed. It's amazing. Can you tell us some of the stories? I know I've heard some of them before and they're extraordinary. Top clan members that became like family to you. Sure, absolutely. The first leader that I interviewed was a grand dragon, which means a state leader. What you and I would call a governor, and he would later the one to become an imperial wizard, which means national leader.

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