Daryl Davis to speak at Martin Luther King celebration

Daryl Davis

Daryl Davis

At a time when our community and our nation are struggling with the things that divide us, Daryl Davis is looking for common ground. He will bring his unorthodox message of building peace through building relationships to the Friendship Council’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. Doors will open at 5:30. The program is free and open to the public, and will be immediately followed by a reception. All are welcome.

 

Mr. Davis is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and musician. He is the author of the book Klan-Destine Relationships, an account of his journey as a black man trying to understand the mentality of racism by getting to know klansman as individuals and modeling communication with respect and courtesy. One description of his talks states, “Audiences leave his lectures empowered to confront their prejudices and overcome their fears.”

 

He is the recipient of the Elliot Black award from the American Ethical Union, a Bridge Builder award from the Washington Ethical Society, and an award from the international peace-building organization Search for Common Ground. He is also the recipient of a Grammy award, and has played boogie-woogie piano in many venues from Lincoln Center to a club in Tryon, N.C.

 

Raised by parents in the foreign service, Mr. Davis’ early education was overseas in integrated schools. He was confronted with overt and dramatic demonstrations of racism only when his family returned to the United States. Here, for the first time, he saw people divided by race. When his parents tried to explain racism to him, he initially thought they were lying. His experiences with racism led him to an intense and personal study of racism in many forms, including white supremacy, black supremacy, and anti-Semitism.

 

He has taken risks most of us would never think of in his efforts to understand those who might be considered enemies. When asked why he would put himself at physical risk to make these connections, he responded, “Because this is my country as well as it is theirs and many other people’s. As our society becomes more diverse, we really need to get to know one another and understand one another so we can better understand our society. The best way for an enemy to defeat us is to divide and conquer. And, right now, we are divided.”

 

Mr. Davis will offer participants a new perspective on engaging with people whose beliefs and values differ from their own through listening, understanding and respecting. Perhaps some will even be moved to examine their own prejudices, and to attempt to bridge some of the divides – whether racial, religious, economic, social or otherwise – that exist within our own community.

 

The Friendship Council’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration for 2016 is supported by a generous Free Community Event Grant from the Polk County Community Foundation. For information call 828 859-7099.

 

– Submitted by Donna Tatnall

 

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