Klandestine Relationships - Daryl Davis
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01/15/10 Rob Piccirillo
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Daryl Davis doing what he does for a living: music.


photo by Rob Piccirillo

Can a Ku Klux Klan member be converted away from racism? Well, that’s something Grammy Award-winning pianist Daryl Davis spoke about last night to a few hundred USF students at USF-Tampa’s Phyllis Marshall Center. The presentation, which is part of USF’s University Lecture Series, was following by a short question-and-answer session and book signing.

Daryl Davis is a professional musician who has played with Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, but it wasn’t until a card-carrying member of the KKK compared his piano playing to Jerry Lee Lewis that Davis would discover his new role of author.

In 1991, Davis decided to write a book about racism. He interviewed various KKK members throughout the country, eventually convincing one Klansman to put him in touch with Maryland’s Imperial Wizard, Roger Kelly.

It was over the course of years of book research and interviewing that Davis says he learned his most valuable lesson.

Davis says he sparked many close, unlikely friendships with Klan members, whereby they eventually changed their racist ideologies, quitting the Klan and donating their hoods and robes to Davis. Davis says he has assembled quite a collection.

Despite his odd relationships and borderline obsessive hobby of converting Klansman, Daryl Davis is first and foremost a musician.

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