The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Rachel Pott
Rachel Pott
News Writer

I am a marketing major about to start my second year at Northern Michigan University, however, this will be my third year in college. I previously attended a small community college...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

KKK infiltrated by black author

The last thing one would expect to see at a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) meeting would be a black man. However, one distinguished black man infiltrated the KKK years ago and has, since then, been changing members’ racist beliefs.

That man, Daryl Davis, 49, a pianist and author, spoke in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center Tuesday about his on-going relationship with the Klan. The Black Student Union brought Davis to campus.

Davis started convincing Klan members to quit the organization while doing research for his book, “Klandestine Relationships.”

“I decided I wanted to write a book and I needed a nucleus; so I chose the Klan,” Davis said. This decision came after playing piano in a bar in Maryland where Klan members frequented and befriended Davis; however, their friendship never left that bar.

Story continues below advertisement

Eight years later, Davis decided to set up an interview for his book with the Grand Dragon of Maryland, Roger Kelly, the state leader of the KKK. Before meeting with Kelly, Davis didn’t disclose his race.

“[I thought] if he agrees to the interview, he’ll figure that out when he sees me. You know he’s not colorblind if he’s in the Klan,” Davis said.

Kelly did agree to the interview and while he was shocked upon meeting Davis, he stayed and completed the interview.

“Yes, we’re enemies, he’s the head of the Klan and I’m a black guy. But guess what? We were at the same table in the same room, talking. Even when we were disagreeing we weren’t at each other’s throats, we were civilly disagreeing,” Davis said.

Kelly and Davis became friends after a long bout of uneasiness. Kelly invited Davis to Klan rallies and Davis attended in order to accumulate more research for his book.

“I would go to Klan rallies,” Davis said. “[I would] watch them light up the cross and parade around and shout ‘white power’ and salute the cross. I would take my notes for my book and learn some more.”

During one rally, a camera crew from CNN attended after being informed about the untraditional KKK gathering. The crew talked to Kelly about his relationship with a black man.

“I’ve got more respect for the black man than I’ve got for all you white niggers out there,” Kelly stated on the video.

This began the slow decline of Kelly’s Klan involvement and years later, even after being promoted to Imperial Wizard, which is a national leader, Kelly began to second-guess his beliefs. He then gave his cape and hood to Davis, which was presented at the speech.

“Eventually, that cement that held Roger Kelly’s ideology together began to crack,” Davis said. “Then it began to crumble, and just a few years ago Roger Kelly quit the Klan. He no longer believes in what he said. He’s out of it.”

Racism is an issue America has faced for many years. The KKK began in the United States in 1866 and promoted racism nation-wide. Today, Davis has many capes and hoods from KKK members who have changed their beliefs after meeting him. However, Davis claims that everyone in America has the ability to change the minds of those who have bigoted beliefs.

“How is it that we Americans can talk to people as far away as the moon but we can’t talk to the person who lives right next door because he or she is a different religion, race or ethnicity?” Davis said. “That makes no sense to me. It seems to me that our ideology needs to catch up to our technology.”

Davis argued that racism is a problem that needs to be directly addressed.

“Racism is not the elementary school bully; if you ignore it, it won’t go away,” Davis said. “Discrimination is a cancer, if you don’t treat it, it will spread. The KKK was invented in 1866. We are in 2008. It’s still here.”

Aaron Whitaker, junior media production major and vice president of the Black Student Union, said she was very pleased with the amount of students at the event and found the speech inspirational.

“I think the speech went amazing. We had a great turnout,” Whitaker said. “You always want to see people change over to the right way, if I can say that. It really touched me.”

Alice Jasper, a junior psychology major, also found the speech to be not only inspirational, but surprising as well.

“I didn’t know much about him before the speech but I was blown away by how much he did in terms of the KKK and really changing people’s perspectives. I think he gives a lot of hope that it can be done,” Jasper said.

More to Discover