Thursday, April 26, 2007

Black Man in the Klan

Last night Centre College hosted a great convocation by Daryl Davis under the title above. Davis, a professional musician, got to know a number of leading klansmen in the course of writing a book about them. Some of these encounters were fights. But what he spoke of last night were some great triumphs. Davis interviewed a Grand Dragon (state leader) of one Klan group under the eye of an armed bodyguard. He listened respectfully, and the other guy treated Davis respectfully. Afterwards, Davis decided to keep in touch with the Grand Dragon, who becomes in the story a guy named Roger Kelly. The two men meet in one another's homes to eat and talk. Kelly and his friends go to hear Davis play. Davis goes to Klan rallies to hear Kelly, now an Imperial Wizard (national leader) preach.

After years of civil encounter, what Kelly described as the "cement" in which his racial views were embedded crumbled. He quit the Klan. He gave Davis his Imperial Wizard costume, complete with pointy hood and mask. Daryl Davis brought these items out on the stage at Centre College last night.

This was only one of Davis' powerful stories of civility, mutual respect, and redemption.

Daryl Davis showed the power of respectful civility across lines of conflict. That is good gruntling.

3 comments:

Michael Stringer said...

I read the review on Amazon that you linked to in your post. Wow! What a contrast to your take on Davis. The reviewer seems to think Kelly took Davis for a ride.

Gruntled said...

Yeah, I noticed that. Part of the difference may be that some of the best parts of the story came after the book was published. It may also be that Davis' point is that hating is no help in overcoming hate, whereas the review wanted to enjoy hating the Klan.

cynthia m. said...

Well, I read the other reviews on amazon.com and the other readers seem to agree with Dr. Weston's take on Davis' work. The book sounds interesting and reminds me of the book "Them:Adventures with Extremists" by Jon Ronson.