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Daryl Davis

Daryl Davis

Keynote Speaker: Musician, Author, Compelling Unifier, Klan Whisperer & Award-Winning Conflict Navigator

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    Live Event Fee: $10,000 - $20,000
    Virtual Event Fee: $10,000 - $20,000
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Daryl Davis Biography

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, Davis 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 Davis their robes and hoods when they did. As a speaker, Davis 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. Davis’s work is chronicled in his book “Klan-Destine Relationships” and the documentary “Accidental Courtesy.” Davis’s TEDx talk has over 12 million views.

Davis graduated from Howard University with his Bachelor of Music Degree. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Post University for the unique work he has done in the field of race relations. He has performed extensively with Chuck Berry, The Legendary Blues Band (formerly The Muddy Waters Blues Band), and many others. While music is his profession, improving race relations is his obsession. He is known to many as “The Rock'n'Roll Race Reconciliator.”

It started during a break between performances with a band at a bar one night. A man approached Davis and remarked that this was the first time he had ever seen a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Davis explained that both he and Lewis were influenced by Black Blues & Boogie-Woogie pianists, from which Rock'n'Roll and Rockabilly evolved. The man did not believe in the Black origin of Davis’s piano style even after he said that Lewis was a friend who had shared this news with him. The man then shared news with Davis – he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

This meeting, and those that followed, would lead Davis on a journey all over America, meeting and interviewing leaders and members from KKK, neo-Nazi and Alt-Right groups at both his and their homes as well as their rallies. With his highly acclaimed, nonfiction book, “Klan-Destine Relationships,” Davis become the first Black author to write a book on the Klan from in-person interviews. The award-winning documentary, “Accidental Courtesy,” details his journey and has been shown frequently on PBS. Davis, who has been to 57 countries on 6 continents, is often selected by the U.S. State Department as a highly respected expert on race relations and conflict, to present programs in various countries around the world dealing with similar situations.

Davis has been doing this work since 1983 and has become the recipient of numerous Klan robes & hoods and other racist symbols, given to him by people who once hated him when they didn't even know him. Now many of them have become his friends and supporters of his work. On the other side of spectrum, for his work in bridging race relations he is the recipient of numerous awards such as the American Ethical Union's prestigious Elliott-Black Award, Carnegie-Mellon's Carl Sagan Award & Prize, Tribeca Disruption Innovation Award, MLK Award, Search for Common Ground Award, Washington Ethical Society Bridge-Builder Award, among many others. He is often sought for commentary by CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, People magazine, and many other media sources.

In Davis’s words, “Ever since I graduated from college in 1980 with my degree in music, I’ve been a full-time musician, traveling and performing all over America and around the world. What I’ve come to find to be the greatest, most effective, and successful weapon we can use to combat ignorance, racism, hatred, and violence, is also the least expensive weapon – and the one that is least used by Americans. That weapon is called communication. We can communicate with people in space but many of us have difficulty talking to the person who lives next door because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their religion, their orientation, their politics, etc. We are living with 21st century technology in Space Age times, but there are still too many of us with Stone Age minds.”

Davis has come in closer contact with more members of the Ku Klux Klan than most White people, and certainly most Blacks, short of being on the wrong end of a rope. What's more surprising? He intentionally continues to do so because as he says, “Ignorance breeds fear. If you do not keep that fear in check, that fear will breed hatred. Because we hate those things that frighten us. If you do not keep that hatred in check, that hatred in turn will breed destruction because we want to destroy those things that we hate. Why? Because they frighten us.”

When he speaks, Daryl Davis’s impact on an audience is sobering yet inspirational. More than a few members in every audience remember and ask him about the fictional character in Dave Chappelle’s comedic skit in which he plays a blind Klansman who didn't know he was Black and attends Klan rallies. Davis shares stories that would be comical, if he weren’t putting his life on the line for a purpose. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction might ever be in Davis’s case. People will also point out how courageous Davis was to actually turn up at Klan rallies himself. Inevitably they bring up Spike Lee’s film BlacKkKlansman. That film depicts a Black police officer who infiltrated the KKK over the telephone and would send a White subordinate officer to Klan rallies in his place to gather damning intelligence against the Klan. The difference is not lost on the audience. Davis had his feet on the ground in the lion's den and tells the story first-hand.

Through his work, Davis has discovered a successful method of transforming enemies into friends. His stories of his encounters with – and transformations of – White supremacists have inspired people all over the U.S. and abroad. His audiences leave his presentations empowered to:

  • Overcome Their Fears

  • Confront Their Prejudices

  • Recognize Similarities

  • Appreciate Differences

  • Navigate Diversity

  • Improve Relationships with Others

  • Better Their Lives While Creating a Positive Impact on Others

In addition to his career as a performing musician, Davis is the owner of Lyrad Music, a music publishing and licensing business. He is also an actor of stage and screen and has appeared in HBO's highly acclaimed series “The Wire.”

Contact a speaker booking agent to check availability on Daryl Davis and other top speakers and celebrities.

Daryl Davis Speaking Topics

THE ULTIMATE BRIDGE-BUILDER

It was music that launched Daryl Davis’ crazy connection to the Ku Klux Klan. He was complimented at a show by a White man who said he’d never heard a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Daryl explained that Lewis, who was actually a friend of his, learned his style by imitating Black artists of the day. The guy didn’t believe it. He also confessed to being a member of the KKK. The ensuing conversation led to an introduction to the leader of the Maryland KKK. Daryl interviewed him for his book and became his unlikely friend. In this talk, Daryl recounts how rock’n’roll – called "the devil’s music" by its detractors at the time of its inception – broke down early racial barriers with young people in the 1950s. 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. He has been dubbed "The Rock'n'Roll Race Reconciliator" for helping people find common ground. Daryl punctuates his captivating presentation with a thrilling musical performance, in the signature Boogie-Woogie style he honed while backing Chuck Berry and other rock'n'roll legends.

2042 – WHAT’S DRIVING HATE AND HOW TO STOP IT

The forces of hate are on the rise in America, making more headlines each day. What can be done about this troubling trend? With over 40 years of engaging KKK and far-right White supremacist groups as a Black man, Daryl Davis provides answers and tells audiences what’s driving this domestic terror, including fear of 2042, the year America is predicted to become a non-White majority nation. Fringe groups are stoking people’s worst fears about that – fostering hate that is very real and extremely dangerous. In this talk, Daryl reminds people, hate is learned – and what is learned can be unlearned. Engaging and educating, not shunning those with toxic beliefs, is crucial. Sharing his powerful personal stories of building true friendships with the same people who once hated him simply for the color of his skin, shows how to build bridges and be a force creating a better world. Engaging those who don’t share our beliefs promotes understanding and respect, even in the face of serious disagreement or differences. Daryl believes we can all play a part in ending hate because, as he says, “There’s only one race – the human race.”

Audiences leave Daryl’s lecture understanding:

  • How fear drives hate and engagement overcomes it
  • The key to changing another’s reality through perception
  • Ways to overcome one’s own prejudices, biases, and fears
  • How one person can make a world of positive difference
  • How to navigate a world of ever-growing diversity

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.

HATE – UNDONE: 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

Daryl Davis Videos

Daryl Davis Breaksdown His Technique for Talking to Klan Members
Klan We Talk | Daryl Davis | Talks at Google
Daryl Davis Lecture - Racism: Ignorance or Evil?

How do I book Daryl Davis to speak at my event?

Our experienced booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure speakers like Daryl Davis for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment since 2002. Click the Check Schedule button above and complete the form on this page to check availability for Daryl Davis, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get speaking fee information and check availability for Daryl Davis or any other speaker of your choice.

How much does it cost to book Daryl Davis for a speaking engagement?

Speaking fees for Daryl Davis, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Daryl Davis are $10,000 - $20,000 for live events and $10,000 - $20,000 for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Daryl Davis, click the Check Schedule button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.

What topics does Daryl Davis speak about?

Daryl Davis is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Diversity, Black Heritage, Social Activism and Music.

Where does Daryl Davis travel from?

Daryl Davis generally travels from Silver Spring, MD, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances.

Who is the agent for Daryl Davis?

AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully secured keynote speakers like Daryl Davis for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Schedule button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Daryl Davis for your next private or corporate function.

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AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host Daryl Davis or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.

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Daryl Davis is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics including Diversity, Black Heritage and Social Activism. The estimated speaking fee range to book Daryl Davis for live events is $10,000 - $20,000, and for virtual events $10,000 - $20,000. Daryl Davis generally travels from Silver Spring, MD, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Nikki Giovanni, Dr. Bernice King and Ijeoma Oluo. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Daryl Davis for an upcoming event.

Daryl Davis Speaking Topics

  • THE ULTIMATE BRIDGE-BUILDER

    It was music that launched Daryl Davis’ crazy connection to the Ku Klux Klan. He was complimented at a show by a White man who said he’d never heard a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Daryl explained that Lewis, who was actually a friend of his, learned his style by imitating Black artists of the day. The guy didn’t believe it. He also confessed to being a member of the KKK. The ensuing conversation led to an introduction to the leader of the Maryland KKK. Daryl interviewed him for his book and became his unlikely friend. In this talk, Daryl recounts how rock’n’roll – called "the devil’s music" by its detractors at the time of its inception – broke down early racial barriers with young people in the 1950s. 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. He has been dubbed "The Rock'n'Roll Race Reconciliator" for helping people find common ground. Daryl punctuates his captivating presentation with a thrilling musical performance, in the signature Boogie-Woogie style he honed while backing Chuck Berry and other rock'n'roll legends.

  • 2042 – WHAT’S DRIVING HATE AND HOW TO STOP IT

    The forces of hate are on the rise in America, making more headlines each day. What can be done about this troubling trend? With over 40 years of engaging KKK and far-right White supremacist groups as a Black man, Daryl Davis provides answers and tells audiences what’s driving this domestic terror, including fear of 2042, the year America is predicted to become a non-White majority nation. Fringe groups are stoking people’s worst fears about that – fostering hate that is very real and extremely dangerous. In this talk, Daryl reminds people, hate is learned – and what is learned can be unlearned. Engaging and educating, not shunning those with toxic beliefs, is crucial. Sharing his powerful personal stories of building true friendships with the same people who once hated him simply for the color of his skin, shows how to build bridges and be a force creating a better world. Engaging those who don’t share our beliefs promotes understanding and respect, even in the face of serious disagreement or differences. Daryl believes we can all play a part in ending hate because, as he says, “There’s only one race – the human race.”

    Audiences leave Daryl’s lecture understanding:

    • How fear drives hate and engagement overcomes it
    • The key to changing another’s reality through perception
    • Ways to overcome one’s own prejudices, biases, and fears
    • How one person can make a world of positive difference
    • How to navigate a world of ever-growing diversity

  • 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.

  • HATE – UNDONE: 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

Daryl Davis Videos

Daryl Davis Breaksdown His Technique for Talking to Klan Members
Klan We Talk | Daryl Davis | Talks at Google
Daryl Davis Lecture - Racism: Ignorance or Evil?
Daryl Davis Lecture Promo Video

Daryl Davis Reviews

  • I am so grateful to have worked with Daryl!
    Post University - Feb 23 2022

  • Another EXCELLENT collaboration! I look forward to working together again soon.
    Wingate University - Mar 01 2021

  • Central Middle School - Jan 23 2019

Daryl Davis News

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