150 at­tend Wye River talk on race re­la­tions

Record Observer - - News -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — On April 6, Wye River Up­per School hosted a pre­sen­ta­tion by Daryl Davis — au­thor, mu­si­cian, speaker and race re­la­tions ex­pert. The pre­sen­ta­tion was made pos­si­ble through a gen­er­ous grant from Tom and Cathy Hill.

With more than 150 peo­ple in at­ten­dance, Davis shared his life’s jour­ney and how he came to write a book about the Ku Klux Klan, Klan-Des­tine Re­la­tion­ships. Au­di­ence mem­bers in­cluded Wye River Up­per School stu­dents and fac­ulty, com­mu­nity lead­ers, mem­bers of var­i­ous re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, and other friends of the school.

As a 10-year-old Boy Scout, Davis re­mem­bers bot­tles be­ing thrown at him dur­ing a pa­rade in the ‘60s. He re­called think­ing to him­self, “Wow. Some peo­ple really hate the Boy Scouts.” It wasn’t un­til later that he un­der­stood the bot­tles were only be­ing thrown at him, the only black child in the troop. This event sparked a ques­tion in Davis’ mind that be­came the driv­ing force to his life’s work — “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?”

Davis has been on a quest to un­der­stand racism. Though it was not his in­tent, he has since be­come a leader and an agent of change in the United States. He has taken an un­con­ven­tional ap­proach to un­der­stand­ing racist be­hav­ior through the evo­lu­tion of his re­la­tion­ship with sev­eral prom­i­nent KKK mem­bers. Un­armed and alone, Davis re­peat­edly risked his life as he in­ter­acted with the Klan. Through years of work and pa­tience, he changed the hearts and at­ti­tudes of sev­eral long-time KKK lead­ers and mem­bers, prompt­ing sev­eral of them to even­tu­ally give Davis their robes and hoods in a sign of peace.

Davis is the re­cip­i­ent of the Washington Eth­i­cal So­ci­ety Bridge Builder Award and the highly pres­ti­gious Amer­i­can Eth­i­cal Union’s El­liotBlack Award, among oth­ers. He is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor/ cu­ra­tor and founder of The Na­tional Ku Klux Klan Mu­seum and the Klan We Talk fo­rum.

The Davis pre­sen­ta­tion came a few weeks be­fore Wye River Up­per School stu­dents and staff took a “2016 Peace and Res­o­lu­tion Tour” through the deep south. The stu­dents and staff vis­ited Mont­gomery, Birm­ing­ham and Selma, Ala., as part of their aca­demic stud­ies. The group trav­eled to ma­jor his­tor­i­cal sites con­nected to the Amer­i­can Civil Rights move­ment of the 20th Cen­tury. This is the cul­mi­nat­ing, cross-cur­ric­u­lar trip was even more mean­ing­ful be­cause the stu­dents had heard Daryl Davis’s story.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Wye River Up­per School stu­dents and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Chrissy Aull give guest speaker Daryl Davis, left, a gift in thanks for his pre­sen­ta­tion.

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