This week, Faith Matters is bringing you a story that defies expectations so completely that you really have to hear it straight from the source. Our guest was Daryl Davis, who’s easily one of the most fascinating and inspiring people we’ve ever met.
Daryl has spent his career as a professional musician, including decades playing alongside rock and roll legends Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. He’s a master of multiple instruments, but specializes on the piano, where he blends unbelievable talent, skill, and passion to create truly incredible music. Make no mistake however, there’s much more to Daryl than just music.
Daryl first experienced anti-Black racism from strangers as a young boy, and it inspired a lifelong question: “how can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Over many years, that question eventually led him to not just meet, but befriend members and leaders of Ku Klux Klan: as those friendships have blossomed, love and respect have grown in the place of hate. Daryl now estimates that he’s been instrumental in persuading over 200 white supremacists to leave their hate groups.
Along with his story, Daryl shares a provocative message: that we should continuously allow people with incorrect or even abhorrent viewpoints to air their opinions. In Daryl’s view, ignorance is the root of fear, hate, and destruction. And only by remaining together in the same cultural spaces, and even actively seeking out and conversing with those we disagree with, can we counter the root cause — ignorance — with education and exposure to better views. That’s how Daryl says we can then eliminate the symptoms of fear, hate, and destruction.
We want to thank the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, known by their acronym “FAIR,” who introduced us to Daryl and made this interview happen. FAIR is nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing civil rights and liberties for all Americans, and promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and humanity. Daryl is a Senior Fellow and Advisory Board Member at FAIR, and you can find out more about their foundation at fairforall.org.