Daryl Davis: The Black Musician Who Converts Ku Klux Klan Members


Daryl Davis is a musician – a pianist to be exact. He has jammed with the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King and even Bill Clinton. Loyal to music but not to genre, he plays jazz, blues, rock’n’roll, country, boogie-woogie, swing, big band and beyond. No matter the musical style, Davis will play it, because he believes that music in all its variations is a great equalizer. So when he entered the Silver Dollar Lounge in Frederick, Maryland, for a country gig one fateful night in 1983, being the only black man present did not perturb him at all.

While this was not his first country gig at the Silver Dollar Lounge, it was his most significant. After he and his band finished their set, Davis was approached by a patron who was around 15 years his senior. Not an unusual occurrence for a working musician. However, while praising Davis on his performance, the patron candidly noted that he had never seen a black man who could play like Jerry Lee Lewis.‘Make techno black again’: a social experiment subverts whitewashing in clubs

More curious than offended, Davis used this encounter as an opportunity for friendly discourse rather than outrage. “I explained to this older white guy that Jerry Lee Lewis was influenced by the same black boogie-woogie and blues piano players as I was,” Davis says with a chuckle. “He didn’t believe me. Then I told him that Jerry Lewis is a good friend of mine and well, he didn’t believe that either, but he was fascinated.”https://96f1ab91d03bf3b8686b2acb7ba30e6d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

“So he asks me to join him for a drink,” he continues. “I don’t drink so I had a glass of cranberry juice and then he took his glass and cheered me. Then he said, ‘You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black person.’ I was instantly curious and thought, ‘What’s going on here?’ So I asked him why. He didn’t answer at first but eventually admitted that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”


Source: The Guardian