Despite the video title, I DID NOT join the Ku Klux Klan. There are no Blacks in the Klan. Common sense dictates that if Blacks were allowed to join the KKK, the Klan would lose the very premise of its identity. Rather than accept everything I am told or have read about a subject, I chose to learn about it firsthand. I met with Klan leaders and members from all over the country and detailed my encounters in my book, "KLAN-DESTINE RELATIONSHIPS." Verification here

Comments: 2635 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

DearBurt936 karma

For my Master's research, I analyzed local (Little Rock, Ark.) newspaper coverage of the 1922 county elections, which were essentially highjacked by the Klan, giving the local Klavern full reign of local politics. However, back then the organization wasn't known so much as a hate group, but rather a trendy club that promoted good Christian morals (anti-liquor, anti-lawlessness, etc.) in a time of rapid urbanization, which made them extremely popular in rural places, like the South. Of course, they were also anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, anti-race mixing, etc., and became violent (floggings of town drunks/bootleggers, etc.) as the Klan's popularity rose and it was more acceptable, which I think -- as always (late 1800s, 1920s, 1960s) -- leads to their (rightful) negative image and subsequent drop in popularity.

My questions ... Did you ever encounter Klansmen who preached non-violence? What was the highest ranking Klan member you ever interviewed? Did you ever find yourself thinking, Wow, this is a really nice, smart guy -- what the hell is he doing in the Klan?!

DarylDavis1167 karma

Great question!!! I interviewed many of the highest ranking Klan leaders all the way down to rank and file members. The hierarchy is this: Imperial Wizard = National Leader (like a President), Grand Dragon = State Leader (like a Governor), Great Titan = County Leader (like a County Executive or Manager), Exalted Cyclops = District Leader (like a Mayor, Councilman, Alderman) and then rank and file members. You also have chaplains, recruiters, secretaries, treasurers, and other minor officers at each level. There were indeed a few moments of, "Why are you in the Klan???" I didn't just think it, I flat out asked these men and women. By the way, the KKK is VERY male chauvanistic. There are plenty of women in the Klan (known as Klans Ladies or Klanswomen), but cannot hold the highest titles. Some of the really smart and nice guys actually became members because of their own insecurities. They knew they were smarter than everyone else in there and it made them feel superior and was an ego stroke, which they were not getting from their smart peers on the outside.

Piranhamonkey326 karma

I heard about this back when I was in school, what a crazy fascinating subject.

On a side note, I knew a self proclaimed neo-nazi and Holocaust denier that was one of the most "book smart" people that I knew, very well thought out arguments and always had research to back up his claims. (he was a bit crazy) We would call him "Nazi Dan" that was his nickname, and would introduce himself as such.

DarylDavis397 karma

Oh yeah, I've met a lot of Holocaust deniers.

sonia_bunny576 karma

How much did they actually conform to the typical KKK stereotypes?

DarylDavis885 karma

Some of them 100%. Some of them, not at all. They come from all walks of life. The one common conformation was their belief in separatism and or supremacy. And even with that, some would talk with me, some would not, and some would attack me.

rand0mguy1492 karma

Do you actually befriended them as in you became friends, or did you just meet them, had some kind of conversation, and you managed to not kill each other?

DarylDavis1024 karma

Yes, I truly befriended some of the KKK members and neo-Nazi members. Some of them left their respective organizations as a result of our friendship. Not at my request, but due to their own rethinking their ideology. There are others with whom I am friends, who are still in their organizations. You can have friends with whom you respectfully disagree.

Calamintha330 karma

But can you have friends who think you are worth less as a person than they are? Or is that a misrepresentation of what members of the KK feel about people who aren't white.

DarylDavis941 karma

For the most part, that is what many of them think. There are those who believe that you may be equal to them but you need to stay with your own and they need to stay with their own. But what they think about me, DOES NOT determine or influence what I think about myself. When I keep that in mind, I am able to maintain a friendship with those who think less of me. I have complete knowledge of myself, confidence, respect and dignity. None of my "friends" started out liking me. They hated me!!! But, by maintaining the aforementioned characteristics, some eventually changed their minds and that was the beginning of some wonderful friendships.

[deleted]194 karma


DarylDavis307 karma

You meant to say "anti-black," but I understood what you said. Yes, I hear that all the time. It is simply a code phrase to tone down the truth and attract more recruits by sounding more appealing than hateful. Sure, there is a small percentage that believe that. But, I know for a fact that those words hide the true meaning because I know what is said in public and I know what is said in private.

I_dont_like_typing373 karma

What made you decide to take the time to do this? Did you think going into it that you would have as big of an impact you clearly have now? Thanks alot!

DarylDavis1471 karma

To be honest with you, it was more curiosity than courage. I truly had no idea that as many people would be as interested. It bothers me a great deal that we as Americans have the ability to talk to people all over the world via our cell phones, or on the internet like I'm doing with you right now, or even all the way to the moon. We Americans, invented that technology. While Neil Armstrong was walking around up there talking about, "One small step for man, but one giant leap for mankind," we could talk live with him via satellite radio phone from NASA. So how can we talk to people around the world and on the moon, but yet, we can't even talk to our next door neighbor because he or she might be of a different skin color or religion???? It seems to me, before pat ourselves on the back and call ourselves the greatest nation in the world, we need to raise our ideology up to the level with our technology. So, I decided to try to be part of the solution, rather than part of the probem.

Exocytosis344 karma

What was the biggest misconception you had about the clan/its members before you met them? As in, what surprised you most about them? Sorry, I'm trying to find a way to word this so it doesn't sound like I'm defending them (I'm not), it's just that Klan members tend to be depicted as comic-book style caricatures, and I suspect that the truth is more complex (even if they are ultimately just as bad).

DarylDavis438 karma

Well of course you are on the money in that they are generally stereotyped as comic book caricatures who yell and scream racial epithets on Jerry Springer and Geraldo. I've done a lot of those shows with them and yes, that stereotype does exist and is probably the one with whom most of the public is familiar, due to the media attention and ratings. That's to say that they don't behave that way outside of the spotlight. Many of them do. But there are plenty who do not engage in that stereotypical fashion and I've met plenty of them. So it was surprising and refreshing to be able to carry on a good conversation with them, regardless of whether or not we agreed or disagreed.

[deleted]336 karma

Were you ever threatened with violence by clan members or physically attacked?

DarylDavis557 karma

I interviewed numerous KKK members and neo-Nazis all over the country and continue to do so. Most of them have been very cordial and cooperative. There were some who flat out refused to talk with me. There have been a number of threats, but only a few physically attacked me.

RyanRaygun271 karma

Can you elaborate more on the attacks? Were you seriously injured? How many people attacked you? Do you bring some sort of weapon to the interviews?

DarylDavis1070 karma

I was not seriously injured. I've faced knives and guns and of course fists. I've had to physically fight upon occasion, but that is not my first resort. I did not carry any weapons to my interviews. On one occasion, it was only one Klansman who attacked me. On another, it was 3 of them. I won, both physically on the street and legally in court.

Capn_Crusty283 karma

What's it like playing with Chuck Berry? And that's you behind Bill Clinton in his famous saxophone appearance? Please name some others you've played music with, and how has it affected your Klan endeavors?

DarylDavis914 karma

Yes, I've played with Chuck Berry on and off for 31 years. I love Rock'n'Roll and he's the man who invented it, by combining elements of Black Blues and Boogie Woogie with elements of White Country music. Yes, that is Bill Clinton. I've played for him a few times. One of the first Klan members I met was when I was in a Country band. I was the only Black guy in the band and in the whole place. This White guy came up to me on our break and said that this was the first time he'd ever heard a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. I explained to him that Jerry Lee Lewis learned that style from Black Boogie Woogie piano players. The guy didn't believe me, even after I told him I knew Jerry Lee personally and he had told me this himself. Turns out the guy was a member of the Klan, but was fascinated with me and became a regular fan. He and I became friends and it was him who helped me initially get started in meeting other Klan members.

ProffessionalAmateur279 karma

How did your family feel about it when you started to integrate with members of the KKK, particularly knowing how dangerous it could be for you?

How do they feel regarding the fact that you have still maintained contact with former members?

DarylDavis679 karma

My Mom had already passed when I started this venture, but my Dad was concerned for my safety. He understood what I was doing and why I was doing it. He encouraged me, but cautioned me to be careful. I've even introduced him to some Klan members. When I got married, I invited some Klan members to my wedding. Those who were able, did come (not in their robes & hoods), and had a good time. I have been in 51 different countries around the world. So I have a wide variety of friends and they got to mingle with some of these people. I did not announce that any particular guests were KKK members. Some of my guests knew and some didn't. My Dad is fine with what I do as long as I'm honest and believe in what I'm doing.

War_Eagle267 karma

Did you have any experiences that genuinely frightened you or made you reconsider what you are doing?

As someone who is not white and lived in Alabama for 5 years of my life, I want to let you know that you are doing a great thing.

DarylDavis386 karma

Thank you for your thoughts. I was aware at all times that my safety could possibly be at risk. But my greatest weapon of defense was knowledge. I have done a lot of studying on this topic and understand the various mentalities of the members. This way I'm able to communicate in a manner that keeps everything on an even keel, without kissing anyone's behind or expecting mine kissed. I did not fear, nor did I try to provoke fear into them either. When I got my first positive response, I knew despite any negativity, I was on to a good thing, so I never reconsidered what I was doing.

War_Eagle237 karma

Have you ever put on one of robes/hoods?

DarylDavis529 karma

Out of curiosity, I tried on one of the robes and hoods I received. I looked at myself in the mirror, determined I looked ridiculous, so I took it off. Many people feel powerful when they put on a costume of someone who they perceive to have power, like Clark Kent in a suit and tie, changing into his Superman outfit. I have witnessed that happen when I've attended Klan rallies and watched members change from their regular clothes to their robes and hoods. So I tried it. It didn't do anything for me.

huitlacoche237 karma

Did you ever consider going undercover by wearing the full get-up so they couldn't determine your race?

DarylDavis1712 karma

Unlike them, I don't hide who I am.

[deleted]145 karma

that is 'robes/wizard hats.'

DarylDavis146 karma

Yes, robes & hoods, and even the optional mask that covers the face.

blinkerfluid13223 karma

I imagine you encountered a lot of people who held these beliefs because they were encultured by family to do so. Did you ever interact with the children that were being shoved this bullshit? If so, what was the worst case you experienced?

DarylDavis1103 karma

Oh yes, I've encountered a lot of children who were being raised in this culture. Some have grown up to become leaders in the movement, while others have had a change of mind. One of those children I befriended when she was 15, later got out of the Klan and said of her parents, "Trying to close a mind that has not yet had the chance to be opened, is the worst form of child abuse."

sterlingarcher0069178 karma

Have you seen Dave Chapelle's "Clayton Bigsby" skit? What did you think of it?

DarylDavis285 karma

Yes, I've seen it. I can see where people who've never been to a Klan rally might think it was funny. I doubt if Dave Chapelle has ever attended a KKK rally. I've been to a bunch of them and believe me, there's nothing funny about them.

wish_I_Had_A_Beard176 karma

Do any KKK members have any sort of rhetoric to justify their racesim? If so have any arguments persuaded you in any form to their side?

DarylDavis428 karma

Of course in their eyes, there's always something to justify their racism. "If God wanted us to be together, He would have made us all the same color." "Black people have smaller brains than Whites." "Europe is far more advanced than Africa." "I'm not a racist, I just love my race. If that makes me a racist, then you are one too if you love your race." These and many more statements are what I hear all the time. None of which are persuasive or even thought-provoking to me to consider any validity to them.

Watch_Zero130 karma

Do you think that some old members who befriended you would now stop talking to you because the story went viral?

DarylDavis278 karma

No, we will still talk. One of them called me this morning. They know where I stand. I can sit in their living rooms and disagree and they can sit in mine and express offensive views without any fear of retaliation or impact upon our friendship.

Qasaur127 karma

Is the KKK as active as it was in say, the 60s?

DarylDavis287 karma

Yes, the KKK is very active now, especially with the fact that we have a Black President and the growing influx of illegal aliens coming into this country. The membership is not as big as it was in the '60s, but they are constantly recruiting and there are many other groups with similar beliefs that like-minded people can join. When the Klan talks about illegal aliens, it is a code word for Hispanic or Latino people. There are many illegals in our country from the UK an Eastern Europe for example, but they don't matter because they share the same pigmentation as the KKK members.

potently-potable114 karma

Are there any depictions of the KKK or other white supremacist/neo-Nazi groups in TV or movies that you think are very close to the real thing? Or are they mostly altered for as the result of a Hollywood effect?

The first one that comes to my mind is American History X. If you've seen it (and if you haven't you should!), do you think it accurately portrays those types of groups?

DarylDavis157 karma

Yes, I've seen it and yes it accurately portrays a certain segment of those types of groups, but not all groups. Everyone should see it. Good call.

arrggg109 karma

Is the Klan all about hate mongering? or do they have any redeeming qualities (i.e. do they help communities in any ways)?

DarylDavis194 karma

While there have been numerous instances of Klan members destroying communities, bombing churches, committing lynchings and other atrocities, here have actually been many instances of Klan groups helping communities as well. Some have helped rebuild homes and churches, collected food and money for the needy and the poor of both Black and White races and kept highways clean by adopting a highway. Some of it has been genuine, while some of it has been to generate positive publicity for their agenda. Some of these redeeming things go unnoticed by the media and some offers by KKK groups to participate in positive community activities are rejected.

So_Original_Poster108 karma

What do you believe is a bigger issue in our current American society: racism of white people or black on black crime? Why?

DarylDavis237 karma

Black on Black crime is at an epidemic proportion, not that any proportion should be acceptable. More Blacks have been killed by each other than killed by the Klan. It's definitely something that needs to be addressed by this country as a whole, and more Black leaders need to step forward and implement solutions and measures that will lead to the reduction of this situation. Racism is still high in our country. We've come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

SirDerpingtonIII93 karma

I found your case very interesting, I thought your method was a little dangerous, however you are a badass and I commend you.

Do you believe you've learnt about a the side of hate emanating from the KKK members? Do you find they are ridiculous for exercising such hate toward your race? Or have you found some reason behind their method that is not seen by the general public?

Could you shine some light on being friends with the leader of that one KKK group? How exactly do maintain friendship with him despite his being upset toward your race? and vis versa?

DarylDavis291 karma

Danger is always a possibility when you are dealing with someone who hates you for no other reason than the color of your skin. Some of the people I interviewed had murdered people with my skin color. But it is important to communicate with those who would seek to to that. Education is the best weapon to combat ignorance. The most important thing I learned was that while I was actively learning about them, I was passively teaching them about myself. I was always honest with them. No, I found no justifiable reason for any person, Black or White or other, to hate an entire race. I interviewed Black separatists and supremacists also. I know that you find it irrational for a KKK leader and I to be friends. I get that. But, what I focus upon is some of the things we have in common. Trust me, you probably have more in common with your perceived enemies than you have in contrast. You can find that out by sitting down and getting to know them. Then you build upon those commonalities. It gets to the point where skin color matters less and less. By the way, that video that you saw was done 5 years ago. That Klan leader left the Klan and I now own his robe.

So_Original_Poster70 karma

How did you go about converting such hard-nosed racists? Was it a process you worked into over time or did they have an epiphany moment? Do you still maintain contact with any of them?

DarylDavis207 karma

I do maintain contact with many of them. Those who became friends, will always be my friends and I care about my friends. Let me be clear here. I did not set out to convert anyone. I simply set out to interview them and ask questions, one being, "How can you hate me when you don't even know me?" The conversions would take place by their own doing. When they would realize (over a period of time) that I was genuinely interested in them and had as much (sometimes more) knowledge about their organization as they did, it grew their respect for me. Over time, some of them would begin to question their own belief system. That was the point at which a self-conversion would begin. Of course, I did not discourage it.

jaded8865 karma

What is your take if a white person uses the word "nigga" in a non-racist context?

DarylDavis258 karma

Personally, I don't care for the word or any of its other forms and I don't use it. But if anything is used in a non-offensive manner, it shouldn't matter who is using it as long as the intent is not offensive. Klansmen would often ask me, "Why is it okay for a Black person to call another Black person a nigger, but it's all out war if a White person uses that word?" My feeling on that is that it's not okay for a Black person to call another Black person or anyone else for that matter, by a racially derogatory slur. However, I explain the anger behind it to the the Klansmen this way: "If you and your brother got into an argument or fight and insults were being traded and he called you a son-of-a-bitch, it wouldn't really have any effect. He's calling your mother a bitch. But guess what, you too must be a son-of-a-bitch if he's your brother, by virtue of the fact that you share the same mother. So the sting of the insult is moot. But let me or someone outside of your family insult your mother and you'd be ready to kick my ass. It's the same thing with a Black person calling another Black person a nigger. I hate to use the cliche, but it's the old case of the kettle calling the pot black.

dhzh62 karma

How did you find the KKK members'? Any unusual characteristics?

DarylDavis123 karma

A Klansman or Klanswoman is not stamped out of a standard cookie cutter. They come from all walks of life, educational backgrounds, occupations, etc. So like the rest of society, there are those with unusual characteristics and those who appear like anyone else. None of it is innate. Most of it stems from family tradition, environment, and socio-economic hardships.

thewaybaseballgo52 karma

Were there any neo-nazi skinheads in the Klan that you spoke to?

If so, how were they different than, let's say, traditional Klansmen?

DarylDavis172 karma

Yes, there were neo-Nazis in some of the Klan groups I dealt with, and some groups refused to allow neo-Nazi skinheads to join. The KKK groups that have more younger leaders and members, will generally welcome neo-Nazis. This is usually because their membership numbers are down so they are trying to establish a strong presence and therefore recruit any White person neo-Nazi or other affiliation who wants to join. The older more established KKK groups with older leaders and members usually refuse to let neo-Nazis join. Why? Because even though the ideology of White superiority is similar, many of these older people or their fathers, fought in WWII against the Nazis. So their stance is, "I (or my father) fought the Nazis in Germany. Why would I want to let them join me now?" Or, one of their family members was killed in the war against the Nazis. So they resist aligning themselves with anything with a swastika.

weezrsucks43 karma

What questions did you ask them? Were you surprised by their answers?

DarylDavis133 karma

I asked hundreds of questions. In some cases, given their background and the environment, I was not surprised. In other cases, yes, I was shocked that some people who you would perceive to have a broader scope would display such narrow-minded views. But in case you didn't know, there have have many well-respected high ranking officials who have been members of the KKK. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, President Harry Truman, Senator Robert Byrd and others were at one time, members of the Ku Klux Klan.

BarbSueRoberts40 karma


DarylDavis52 karma

Thank you very much.

[deleted]39 karma

What is the average level of education among kkk members.

DarylDavis95 karma

Everything from 3rd grade dropout to college graduate to PhD to Supreme Court Justice, to President of the United States. It runs the whole gamut. On average though, you are talking between 10th grade dropout to completion of a high school education. But it can go in both directions and it also depends upon the area in which the educational level is being analyzed. For example, you would find higher educated Klan members in Los Angeles than a small backwoods town in Mississippi.

NoBridge27 karma

I just wanted to say I really respect your courage to go out to understand something so blindly antagonistic to who you are. Have there been any tough moments that made you uncertain whether or not you should continue doing your work?

DarylDavis37 karma

Thank you very much. No, I've never regretted it. If only one person changed and he/she influenced someone else to do the same, then it's all been worth it.