DARYL DAVIS

Musician, Author, Internationally Acclaimed Conflict Navigator, Compelling Unifier, and Klan Whisperer

SPEAKS ABOUT

Conversations That Ignite Change • Teamwork & Collaboration • Inspiration • Diversity • The Power of Civility • Bias • Building Trust •  Organizational Culture •  White Supremacy Issues • Race in America • The Power of Music

“A missed opportunity for dialogue is a missed opportunity for conflict resolution.”
- Daryl Davis

Summary

Daryl Davis is committed to helping people ignite positive change – using conversation to build bridges. His jaw-dropping experiences speak for themselves. For nearly 40 years, he’s engaged leaders of the KKK and White supremacist groups face to face to find the answer to a question: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” That question stemmed from his first encounter with racism at age ten when he was pelted with rocks, bottles, and soda cans by a handful of White spectators while marching in a parade. Seeking to understand, not to change minds, Daryl met their hatred with civility, patience, and listening. Those conversations spawned genuine and lasting friendships with many who changed their own minds and disavowed hateful beliefs. Some even gave Daryl their robes and hoods when they did. As a speaker, Daryl is an extraordinary storyteller who inspires and empowers audiences with tools they can use to make better workplaces, communities, and relations with family and friends. Daryl’s work is chronicled in his book Klan-Destine Relationships and the documentary Accidental Courtesy. Daryl’s TEDx talk has over 12 million views.

SPEECH THEMES

ACCIDENTAL COURTESY
TRAILER

Movie Trailer

DARYL DAVIS
PROFILE

Who is Daryl Davis?

EXPERIENCING RACISM AT 10 SPURS QUESTION

A 10 Year-Old Encounters Racism

BUILDING BRIDGES –
NOT WALLS

The Power of Kindness

CIVILITY & LISTENING
BUILD TRUST

A Klansman Changes His Life

5 CORE
HUMAN VALUES

Five Values to Navigate Conflict

THE ART OF CIVIL CONVERSATION

Nothing Gets Resolved Without Conversation

IMPROVING
RELATIONS

Respect the Right to Speak

BREAKTHROUGH
CONVERSATION

How Enemies Become Friends

ROCK & ROLL HISTORY
FEW PEOPLE KNOW

1950’s Rock & Roll Backlash Racially Driven

GROWING UP IN DIVERSE SETTING

Racism Didn’t Make Sense

SPEECH DESCRIPTIONS

 

CONSIDER ENHANCING DARYL’S SPEECH WITH A SCREENING OF ACCIDENTAL COURTESY, THE FILM ABOUT HIS WORK

CONVERSATIONS THAT IGNITE CHANGE

Conversation can build bridges or walls. It’s up to us. Daryl Davis should know. The noted Black musician gained international acclaim by confronting, face to face, leaders of the Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacist groups who hate him simply for the color of his skin. Daryl’s was an effort to understand them, not to change minds, but those civil conversations forged unlikely and genuine friendships. Over time, many of his new friends changed their own minds and renounced their old beliefs. What can we learn from Daryl’s inspiring and jaw-dropping experiences?

Sample Takeaways:
• Apply universal tools to create positive change wherever conflict or disagreement exists
• Prepare: Understand the other person’s position and reasoning before you engage
• You needn’t respect what people say but you must respect their right to say it
• Learn to listen, understand, and keep emotions in check, even in incendiary situations
• How to recover/repair a relationship with a colleague, client, friend, or family member

DIVERSITY LESSONS FROM A BLACK KLAN WHISPERER

“We spend too much time talking about the other person, talking at the other person, and talking past the other person. Amazing things can happen when we spend some time talking with the other person.” So says Daryl Davis, whose jaw-dropping experiences engaging KKK and White supremacist leaders hold lessons that inspire audiences to think differently about how they engage others who don’t share their views, backgrounds, religion, etc. The more we talk, the more we understand each other and discover what we have in common. That’s when the possibilities open up and the importance of our differences diminishes.

Sample Takeaways:
• Learn to build bridges and ignite positive change in the workplace, community, and at home
• Everyone wants the same 5 things – learn what they are and how they drive behavior
• Spend 5 minutes together and you will find things in common with even your worst enemy
• A missed opportunity for dialogue is a missed opportunity for conflict resolution
• The power of empathy – put yourself in the other person’s shoes

WHAT’S DRIVING WHITE SUPREMACY TODAY?

Daryl Davis has been studying and connecting with some of the biggest promulgators of white supremacy for nearly 40 years. He understands their fears and their quest for power. His expert opinion is routinely sought after by leading print, broadcast, and online news organizations. In this presentation, Daryl brings business leaders, law enforcement, policy-makers, educators, and average citizens up to speed by explaining where things stand right now and what can be done going forward. Daryl is the voice of knowledge, reason, and tranquility in uncertain, racially turbulent times.

Sample Takeaways:
• What is the threat of a race war?
• Understand the fear of “White genocide through miscegenation” and “the browning of America”
• Why the year 2042 is the white supremacists’ Y2K
• White Flight is over – everywhere you go, there’s already someone there who doesn’t look like you
• How to navigate a rapidly changing and more diverse society

HAIL, HAIL ROCK’N’ROLL – DELIVER ME FROM THE DAYS OF OLD

At its inception, Rock ’n’ Roll was called “the devil’s music” by its detractors. Some cities banned it altogether. Rooted in Black R&B and Blues, its infectious beat led young people in the South to leap over the rope that segregated Whites from Blacks in the audience. The 1957, Chuck Berry lyric, “Deliver me from the days of old,” in his hit song School Days, celebrated the music as a turning point in race relations. Daryl brings that history forward into his own story, using music as a common denominator and proving that musical and racial harmony go hand-in-hand.

Sample Takeaways:
• How musical inspiration differs from musical appropriation
• The Elvis conundrum: How he was crowned King of a genre he didn’t create
• How Country and Blues are the same music, and why society separates them
• How a Black musical genre improved race relations and elected a Black president
• Why music is a cultural necessity and not a luxury

IN PRINT AND FILM

TESTIMONIALS

“Your presentation was riveting. You are such an engaging speaker and your story is powerful. We are humbled and inspired by the lessons you shared with us, and the knowledge that each of us can make a difference.”

– Office of Congressional Workplace Rights

“We do have a new bigotry in America…we don’t want to be around anyone disagreeing with us. We self-select our news sources and self-select our encounters. I admire this guy [Daryl Davis] because he did exactly the opposite. You can’t have a culture of encounter if you say I want to encounter interesting new people who know more than I do about nuclear physics but dear God I don’t want to encounter anyone who fundamentally has a different take on things than I do.”

– President Bill Clinton

“My father, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right. Daryl Davis continues to take a position that is not safe, political, or popular, but is right because it is driven by his conscience and courage. The work that Daryl is doing to bridge the divide, sets an example for our nation and world to follow in light of the current racial tensions. Daryl is truly committed to creating the Beloved Community where hate no longer exists, but love prevails.”

– Reverend Dr. Bernice King, Daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr & Corretta Scott King and CEO The King Center – Atlanta, GA

“Daryl Davis is an inspiration in my personal and professional life. From him, I have learned that no conversation is impossible and no person, no matter how hateful, is beyond reach.”

– Peter Boghossian, Philosopher, Professor and Author, How to Have Impossible Conversations

“By learning from [Daryl’s] most extreme experiences, and from those who sit on the extreme side with whom he engages, we could learn leadership lessons that might help all of us… It’s through his courage that we may all explore some of our own.”

– Mike Ritz, Executive Director, Leadership Rhode Island

“He was fabulous! We had a great turnout too! Couldn’t have been better. Daryl exceeded our expectations!”

– Director of Community Programs, Roanoke College

“At all points Davis approaches his quest for information with equally impressive helpings of honesty, good humor and huge reserves of sheer nerve. Davis never “spins” their rationalizations. He just lets his subjects talk, and invariably the wounded, confused and fearful psyches under the bluster are laid bare. Davis consistently approaches each of his subjects as individuals; some he comes to respect and even like. The man has earned his right to preach.”

– Ann Arbor News

“Daryl Davis is a voice of reason in the midst of a lot of noise. By word and example he demonstrates that civil discourse across differences is not only possible, but is the only way to change hearts and minds.”

– Director of College Events, Carleton College

“It was awesome. He had a great impact on our community. One faculty member said that he was ”the best MLK Day speaker in the 21 years that he’s been here.”

– Dean of Multicultural Education, The Governor’s Academy

“The lecture itself was captivating. Daryl is such a great story teller…he really draws you in. I wish we could have let him speak longer so that he could have shared more stories of his encounters, more video clips & some more of his amazing piano skills. There were women on either side of me who could barely contain themselves – they were ready to boogie when he tickled those ivories! Daryl received a much-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of the night and I saw many community & campus members approach him for a handshake and photo before his departure.”

– Convocation Committee, Franklin College (Indiana)

“Daryl was the right person at the right time for Manchester. His message, timeless, was well, WELL received and is still being talked about on campus almost a week later. We had over 500 people in attendance, the most my Office has had for a presentation like this on campus in the six years I’ve worked for Manchester…”

– Director of Intercultural Services, Manchester University

Photo credits (l-r) Photograph by Linda Parker; Photograph courtesy of Daryl Davis: Photograph by Jonathan Timmes; Photograph by Arran Hashim; Photograph courtesy of Daryl Davis