Feb 082012
 
Authors: Bailey Constas

Imagine being dropped into the middle of ritual epithets, supremacy views, speeches of hatred, a cross on fire and shouts of white power. Imagine being dropped into a Ku Klux Klan gathering.

While it would be a frightening experience for most, it was different for Daryl Davis.

Davis, whose skin color didn’t match the KKK robes, said his infiltrations into Klan rallies served as inspiration for his theories to find common ground between enemies.

“They would initially hate me,” he said. “The more we would talk the more they would find out the more that they have fears, [their beliefs] quell from fears, and some of them I would make friends and they would quit the clans, through friendship.”

These rallies and his communications with the members of the KKK served as research for his book, “Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan.”

The KKK meetings are not necessarily an open invitation, especially to a black man, but Davis made sure he would find a way in.

“I didn’t hide myself, initially, when I was writing the book,” Davis said.

He would set up meetings with the KKK members through his white secretary.

“Some would invite me to their homes and whenever I would show up they were shocked,” Davis said. “Many would talk to me after they got over the shock, others would not talk to me, there were a couple physical contacts –– I was attacked.”

But these rendezvous didn’t always end in violence.

“Those that would talk to me, we carried it in a civil manner,” Davis said. “Over a period of time they would invite me to the clan rallies, for my own education.”

He describes the rallies as, “a bunch of misled people in robes and hoods parading around with a cross on fire, saluting white power.”

“Basically it’s a fear, they have a fear that they’re losing ground,” Davis said. “In reality they are losing ground because what I keep hearing from the Neo Nazi’s white supremacists in this country is that I don’t want my grand kids to be brown.”

Davis has various Klan robes and hoods hanging in his closet given to him by former KKK members who denounced their allegiance once they became friends with Davis.
He said that Maryland once had a large KKK community before he began his work.
“As a result of my work and meeting with leaders and becoming friends, they gave up their beliefs and disassembled,” Davis said. “There is no more organized KKK in the state of Maryland…it can work.”
Today, he is speaking as part of Black History Month from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Cherokee Park Ballroom of the Lory Student Center. His talk will focus on his experiences infiltrating the KKK, the white robes he owns and how he has formed friendships out of the least likely of people.
Makeda Hope-Crichlow, a freshman liberal arts major and ethnic studies minor, attends many Black/African American Cultural Center events and helped to facilitate a Black History Month event.

“I do think this month is important and effective –– knowing about your culture and your history makes you who you are,” Hope-Crichlow said.

Collegian writer Bailey Constas can be reached at news@collegian.com.

What: Daryl Davis, author of “Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan” is speaking on his experiences as a black man at KKK meetings.
When: Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: the Cherokee Park Ballroom, Lory Student Center

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