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'Klan Whisperer' Dismantles White Supremacy through Conversation

Daryl Davis tends to attract attention and vitriol whenever he's seen at political demonstrations, but he's used to it.

According to CNN, in early December, Davis traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia to meet with Billy Snuffer, an Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights, a sect of the Ku Klux Klan. Snuffer was there with other Klansmen attending a hearing of an associate facing a gun charge during the infamous "Unite the Right" rally from last August, where a woman was killed by a driver who rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Davis wasn't exactly there to support Snuffer and his friends, but he did want to engage them in conversation in order to understand them. But his attempts to do that tend to elicit strong reactions from onlookers, because Daryl Davis is African-American.

As it turns out, Davis has been at this for a while. As a bluesman dabbling in country and western music, Davis has traveled across the south, east and Midwest, playing music and meeting people. Playing at a bar in 1983, he was once complimented by a patron who compared his playing to Jerry Lee Lewis. After explaining to the man that Lewis learned his craft from black blues and boogie-woogie players, they eventually became friends—despite the fact that the man revealed his membership with the KKK.

Since then, Daryl Davis has been dubbed "the Klan Whisper" as he soldiers on in a mission to challenge the beliefs of Klansmen through friendship and conversation. His closet is a testament to his success, featuring several Klan robes given by men who renounced their affiliation after having befriended him.

Racism in America is a complex problem with a myriad of systemic, interconnected causes and consequences. Nevertheless, Davis' example serves as a gentle reminder that the path toward progress requires a measure of humility and a willingness to listen.

Potential preaching angles: Non-judgmental listening can break down walls; relationships can soften hardheartedness and other obstacles to growth

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