tv HAR Dtalk BBC News August 11, 2021 12:30am-1:01am BST
this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. racism is the wound which has festered throughout us history. from slavery to civil rights, battles have been fought
and won, but still this struggle for justice and equality continues. my guest today is daryl davis, a black man who over four decades has tried to talk to america's most die—hard racists in the ku klux klan. he claims to have forged friendships with white supremacists and opened their minds. but is reaching out to the kkk a distraction from the bigger task of dismantling systemic racism? daryl davis in maryland
in the us, welcome to hardtalk. thank you, stephen. i appreciate it very much. it's a pleasure to have you on the show. yours is a remarkable story. you've spent most of your life seeking dialogue with america's most extreme racists and white supremacists. is that something you are still working on, still seeking that dialogue? absolutely, every day. and how is it going right now? well, it's going fine, you know, given the pandemic. a lot of stuff is being done, as we are right now, over zoom, but i'm still pursuing this, you know, one way or another, whether it's in person or virtually. so i suppose many people watching this will be thinking to themselves, "well, if he's spent most of his life doing it, what's he achieved thus far?" let's take it right back to the beginning. let's establish when it began, and then we can judge how it's going. so, take me back to the origin story.
when did you decide that, as a black american, this was a project worth your while? 0k, well, it started, actually, as a child, for me. now, in terms of going out and meeting the white supremacists and things like that, i met some while i was in high school. some came to my school. but you have to understand my background. i am the child of parents in the us foreign service, so i spent a lot of time living and growing up overseas. i grew up as an american embassy brat, travelling all around the world. i'm 63 years old now. i began travelling in 1961. i lived on the continents of africa and europe and visited many other continents, as well. so, at the age of three, my father took myself and my mother around the world to live in these different countries for the us state department. today, i'm a professional musician. that's how i make my living. and, once again, i'm travelling around the world, performing. and when you combine my childhood travels
with my adulthood travels, i have now been in a total of 57 countries on six continents. so all that is to say that i have been exposed to a variety of ethnicities, colours of skin, religions, cultures, ideologies etc, and all of that has helped shape who i've become. now, to your question, why am i seeking these people out — because this is my country and this is probably the biggest problem, the biggest disease — bigger than coronavirus — that is plaguing this country, because it's been plaguing this country for 402 years. let me stop you for just a moment. those big thoughts you've given us are fascinating, and i think we need to sort of unpick them a little bit. first, i want to have you talk me through daryl davis in his mid—20s as a musician, playing in a bar in maryland, after a performance meeting this white guy who comes up
to you, congratulates you on your music, and then, in the course of a few minutes�* conversation, reveals that he is a member of the ku klux klan. why don't you just tell him to get the hell out of your life? because he was curious about me and, naturally, i was curious about him. why was this klansman praising me, putting his arm around my shoulder and fascinated with my piano playing? he said that this was the first time he had ever heard a black man play the piano likejerry lee lewis. now, obviously, he did not know the black origin ofjerry lee lewis's piano style, which came from black blues and boogie—woogie piano players. that's where rock and roll, rockabilly evolved. why would you as a black man care about his feelings about your musicianship or anything else? once you know the basic fact that here is a white supremacist, an extreme racist who regards you as something inferior, maybe even subhuman,
why would you give that person the time of day? well, you know, there's no "maybe" about it. yes, they do regard people like me as subhuman and inferior. because it was my opportunity to provide him with an education. but it was also my opportunity to be educated by him as to learn what their fear is, what their beliefs are, so that they can be addressed. but, daryl, you talked to me of your geographical experience, your travelling of the world. i imagine, therefore, you have a very strong historical perspective, too. do you think, if you, daryl davis, had in a different world been a young jewish person in 1930s germany, you would have taken the same approach to nazis? knowing me, probably, yes- and do you think that would have achieved anything? well, in fact, i have a friend
who lives right down the street here, a very good friend of mine, who isjewish. her parents are holocaust survivors. she belongs to an organisation based in berlin that brings together the adult children of survivors with the adult children of nazis. yeah, but, if i may say so, that's a very different phenomenon. what you are saying to me is that you can humanise, you can find the dignity and humanity in somebody who has a very clear, overt race theory which says they are superior, you are inferior, and they want you out of their life, their society and their culture — and you are saying, "i can build bridges, i can learn from this person just as they can learn from me." and i'm just telling you that many people watching this will be utterly unconvinced by that. well, that's their own ignorance, then, and that's what needs to be addressed. what can be learned can be unlearned.
and the people who are watching this also probably know that this is learned behaviour, people are not born racist or anti—semitic. so if it can be learned, it can be unlearned. now, the unlearning does not come overnight, granted. it's like if you put on weight, there's nothing you can do to lose all that weight by the next morning. it takes time. just like it took time to put it on, it's going to take time to take it off. and i'm willing to put forward the time, because i believe in bettering my country. my parents worked very hard. my parents had to drink from separate water fountains, eat in different restaurants, use separate bathrooms. but they worked very hard so that i didn't have to do it when i came along. isn't it only right for me to work hard so future generations don't have to go through the nonsense that i had to go through? well, let's look at the record, then, of what happened to you and the relationships — i would even say friendships — you've forged with ku klux klan�*s senior leadership and other white supremacists. it began in the 1980s, it continued for decades,
you say it's still continuing today. many would look at the people you call friends and they would say, farfrom changing them in any way, you simply offered them some degree of — i don't know whether you call it legitimacy or some sort of fig leaf of moral decency, in that they could claim to have a black friend when in fact, their repugnant views and violent behaviours did not change at all. and where have you seen that? because i have people who come out with me on these lecture tours that i do and renounce their former organisations. they have given me their robes and hoods, and nazi swastika flags. and they received death threats from the people in the organisations who still belong, so they're putting their own lives at risk renouncing this. so, yes, it does work. and, you know, if it didn't work, why are we hoping for change? why don't we all just separate and go our separate ways?
you say you've only worked with people who, you know, in one way or another, have changed their minds or been open to persuasion... no, i didn't say that. i work with anybody and everybody. not everybody is going to change, of course. just like not everybody is going to get vaccinated, you know? there will be people who will go to their graves being racist and anti—semitic, and hateful and violent, and there may be no changing them. but i have proven that even if people of that mind—set are willing to sit down and have a conversation with someone like me, there is the opportunity to plant a seed. and the important thing is, you must come back and nurture that seed so that it will bloom and grow in the right direction. and i've been very successful in doing that. well, let'sjudge success on cases, then. let's talk about the case of frank ancona. in a documentary that you featured in in 2016, you're seen embracing ancona. actually, at one point, i think you were even seen straightening his ku klux klan
hood to make sure it looked right on camera. that is correct. yeah, remarkable in itself. and the thing about ancona is that he was an out—and—out violent racist, he was handing out pamphlets after the killing of a black man in ferguson, missouri in 2014, michael brown, threatening to use "lethal force" — that's a direct quote — against black protesters. he was an avowed opponent of what he called "race mixing". he presented you with a certificate of friendship in recognition of your contributions to the american knights of the ku klux klan, demonstrating true friendship. he didn't change his views, and yet he regarded you as useful to him. doesn't that worry you? do you know frank ancona personally? i do not, but i know his record. 0k, well, yeah, i know him personally. i know his record, as well. when i met him, yes, absolutely, he was exactly as you described him,
and i knew him for several years before he was murdered. i also knew the murderer who murdered him. i knew his entire family, i've been in his home many times, i've had dinner with him, i know his family. and, yes, the man was changing. i went to his funeral when he was murdered. i participated in a klan funeral, you know, for him, and today i own his robe and hood. frank would call me on the phone late at night. he was a courier, he would drive parts across the state of missouri. and oftentimes, he would call me late at night to keep him awake. we'd chat on the phone. the man was in the process of changing. let's take another example, richard prestonjr. now, he ended up being sentenced. i talk to richard about every other day. still today? still today, yes. right. i mean, a guy who was convicted of discharging a firearm during the charlottesville race riots of 2017, a guy for whom after all of that
and after people on film saw him referring to black people on that counter—demonstration, i can't even use the word, but it's a foul word directed toward black people. he had a gun, he called barack 0bama on camera a "muslim mongrel," all sorts of other stuff i could cite to you — you put up half, as i understand it, of a cash bond when he was facing legal proceedings. you described him as a true friend for whom you were prepared to put up thousands of dollars. again, people around the world watching this will question yourjudgment. well, let them question it. they also questioned copernicus�*sjudgment when copernicus said that the earth revolves around the sun, when everybody else thought that the earth was the centre of the universe and the sun revolved round the earth. in fact, they called him a heretic and put him in prison, but, at the end of the day, who was right? copernicus was.
you know what one associate, white extremist associate, said of you after you stumped up thousands of dollars to give legal protection to mr preston. he said... i've heard all that, "porch monkey" and all that kind of stuff. yeah, i can't even use the words, i don't want you to use them either because we can't broadcast them on the bbc, but using the most vile, racist language, he said, "yeah, that guy was a witness for richard, he was willing to put up 25,000 bucks for bail," and richard said... ah, you've got the figure wrong. it was not 25,000, not even close to that, my friend. 0k, well, you tell me — how many thousands of dollars did you think richard preston was worth? well, that doesn't matter, but the amount was less than $3,000. well, however it was reported, it was thousands of dollars you stumped up and apparently preston then said he would take the — and again, it's a racist slur i cannot use — he will take your money and then he would, again,
another word i cannot use, a pure expletive. this is the attitude that those people had to you. you were useful to them in some weird way, but they were regarding you, just as they did every other black person, as fundamentally inferior and subhuman. and what you're trying to tell me is that you don't believe people like that can change. yes, they are like that, absolutely, everything you're saying is correct, all right, but where you fall short is in your belief that because they behave this way, there is no redemption. and that's where i believe that you're wrong. i've proven there is redemption. what if you're wrong and you are proving useful to them in that they are manipulating you and, as i said before, projecting an image that, you know what, "we're believing in our superiority, we want a separate white america, black people shouldn't be here, they do not belong, but by the way, we're not
fundamentally racist in that we can still have a black friend as long as he understands where he sits in the god—given universe, then we're prepared to relate to him." you could be a useful stooge. yeah, and there are a lot of stooges out here who don't believe people can change, because everybody that has changed and has given me their robes and hoods, and all of their clan and neo—nazi regalia and memorabilia and paraphernalia — all of those people fit the exact description that you're describing to me and your audience right now. they were in the exact same shoes, and today, they're not. i don't know if you know mark potok, he used to work... mark potok — i know mark potok very well. mark knows me. he does not like me. no, he's an experienced worker in antiracism... and so am i. ..at the southern law poverty center. he was, he's no longer there. yeah, he's no longer there, he's at the centre of analysis of the radical right.
he studies groups, ones that you reach out to and he says this, "when daryl davis's many relationships with clan leaders are examined, it is hard not to wonder if he isn't fundamentally aiding and abetting the cause that he claims to oppose." mm—hm, yeah, well, as i told you, mark potok does not like me. i know him, i've met him. in fact, he appeared in my documentary with me. i respect the work that he's doing. however, he did make a statement and i would send you to go watch the documentary. it's called accidental courtesy, and i invited him to be in the documentary with me, and he did so, he obliged, and he stated his views. he said that what i'm doing... he's not out to sit down and have coffee with the klan. he said he is out to destroy the klan. now, to me, that is wrong. i'm not out to destroy anybody.
i'm out to destroy the ideology that they may practise, but i don't want to destroy the person. at the beginning of this interview, isaid, you know, once we talk about what you've done, this remarkable reaching out, this experiment that you've undertaken, we'd judge it on its results. the result right now in america, according to the southern poverty law center, is that the number of racist groups is on the rise. the kkk is definitely in decline, but we see so many other groups. some of them were involved on the assault on the capitol onjanuary 6th of this year, groups that are committed to a white supremacist racist ideology. they, many of them, fell into support for donald trump, and we see their numbers on the rise. we see, for example, a survey from the splc in august 2020 revealing that 29% of americans say that they personally know someone who believes white people are of a superior race.
all of your efforts to reach out, to engage dialogue, to change people's minds, in 2021 united states, they appear to be failing big time. well, i would tend to disagree with you because i know that over 200 people have left that ideology as a result of either being in direct contact with me or indirect contact with me. isn't the truth that this isn't about reaching individuals, it is about analysing systems? and increasingly, in black america, there is a belief that what we're dealing with here is institutionalised, systemic racism that, for all of the achievements of the civil rights movement, hasn't yet delivered freedom and justice to black people. you see it in policing, you see it injobs hiring, you see it in, for example, the way in which mortgages are handed to people
for housing — so many ways in which systemic racism underpins today's america, and your reaching out to individuals is irrelevant to that. well, that's your saying, those are your thoughts. however, i would say that you're wrong because systemic racism, yes, does exist, it's built into the system, but who puts it in the system? those individuals — those individuals who are in power, those individuals who run for sheriff, who run for the school board, who run to be elected to whatever offices they can do and institutionalise that racism, thus making it systemic. so when you affect the people behind the system, that's how you deconstruct systemic racism. when black people say to you, as kwame rose did — and you were honest enough to put him into your documentary, as well — but kwame rose, a baltimore black activist, said to you, "stop wasting your time
going to people's houses who don't love you, a house where they want to throw you under the basement, white supremacists cannot change and you have become nothing but a pimp in a pulpit." when black people deliver that message to you, how does that make you feel? er, that they are very inexposed and very ignorant to what's going on. let me give you an example of something. what is kwame rose known for? he is known for marching back and forth in front of the baltimore city police department with a megaphone, accusing them of being white supremacists and to stop shooting black people and murdering black people. are you telling me that the black lives message, that the racism, systemic racism in the police departments across the united states has to be addressed, it has to be eliminated — that that doesn't matter? no, of course it matters, but there are different ways to go about eliminating the systemic racism
in the police departments. kwame goes about it one way, i go about it another way, but here is the hypocrisy. he says that i'm wasting my time because white supremacists can't change, yet he's calling baltimore city police officers "white supremacists", so if they can't change, why is he wasting his time marching up and down in front of their department with a megaphone? you've had more than a0 years, daryl davis, working on your individual attempt... keep that in mind. i've had more than a0 years, kwame rose was only 21 years old when he said that. right, so i want to tap into your experience as we end this show. you have had plenty of time and experience to reflect on — do you believe that violent confrontation over race in america is going to get worse? some people look at the demographics of this, they look at the fact that whites will be in a minority in the united states... in 2042. ..very, very soon and they think that could be a turning point when many of the tensions
we talked about become even more inflammatory. yes, that is correct. ok, the year is 2042. two decades from now, 21 years from now, for the first time in our history, the united states will be 50—50. 50% white, 50% non—white. between 2045 and 2055, whites will become the minority. for many, many white people in this country, that is not a problem. they welcome it, "hey, that's evolution, i don't care, it's what happens, no big deal" — but there is a large swathe that is very upset about that, very concerned, and they're becoming unhinged. and that's what the capitol insurrection was all about. they don't want to give up that seat of power of the majority. and yes, things will tend to get more violent before they get better, but it will get better. what makes you say that? because i know. i've been around the world,
i've seen people get along. look at the marches, say, yesteryear, at the beginning of the civil rights movement, let's say with rosa parks, 1955, and through 1968 with dr king — what did you see? you saw a large ocean of black people with a few white people mixed in who got the vision and came out to support us, all right? and the pages turned very slowly. look at the marches of yesteryear, in the wake of the george floyd lynching — what did you see? you saw a large ocean of black people with a large ocean of white people marching together. that collective voice has caused the pages of our history and progress to turn a lot faster. that collective voice, yes, things are improving and yes, they will get better. daryl davis, on that positive note, we have to end this interview. i thank you very much forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you, stephen, appreciate it.
hello. tuesday brought us our first 25 celsius day in the uk in over two weeks. and, whilst some of that warmth will still be felt on wednesday across the south and east of the country with some sunny spells, clouding over into the afternoon, it's the cloudier conditions in the north and west which will bring different conditions compared to what we've seen. much more in the way of rain and breeze, all courtesy of these weather fronts pushing in off the atlantic. heaviest of the rain into the start of the day across parts of northern ireland and the very far west of scotland, but quite a mild and humid start here, 14—15 celsius. fresher in the east, where there will be a few mist and fog patches, but the best of the morning sunshine. now, the sunshine, as i said, will be best in the morning, clouding over from the west, so there's still some sunny spells to the
south and the east. northern ireland should cheer up into the afternoon with some sunshine, and into late afternoon, we'll see that sunshine develop across western scotland, too. but after the morning sunshine across the far north, into 0rkney and eastern parts of scotland, a rather damp afternoon, rain coming and going. rain at times in northwest england, though areas around the merseyside, cheshire area may just about stay dry. patchy rain across wales and southwest england through the afternoon, but much of the midlands, east anglia and the southeast dry, with temperatures around 24—25 celsius yet again, and a fine day in the channel islands, too. now, that weather front bringing the rain actuallyjust fizzles as it pushes its way eastwards as we go into wednesday night and thursday morning. not much in it as it reaches parts of southern england, the midlands, and east anglia. clearer skies to the north of it means a cooler night to take us into thursday, particularly across scotland and northern ireland. temperatures more widely into single figures. but for thursday, we're between two weather fronts — one which is stalling across the south of the country, and this next one across the deepening area of low pressure out to the west of the uk.
does mean most will start off dry with some sunshine, a few showers around. a lot more cloud, though, southern counties of england, east anglia, with some patchy rain and drizzle which will move its way a bit further northwards through the day. but to the north and west, the breeze will pick up, gales across western parts of scotland, parts of northern ireland, too, and some heavy bursts of rain later. in the sunshine, though, for many, temperatures still where we should be for the time of year, 20—24 celsius. friday sees yet more in the way of heavy, thundery showers across parts of western scotland. winds remain strong. blustery day for all. still some cloud lingering across the south, but sunshine elsewhere. bye for now.
welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: the governor of new york resigns in the face of growing pressure over sexual harrassment cases. andrew cuomo said he'd leave his post for the greater good. i work for you. and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. fleeing for safety in afghanistan. as taliban militants take over an eighth provincial capital, tens of thousands of civilians seek shelter from the fighting. the us senate passes a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, with 19 republicans voting for the package. it's a major win for president biden�*s agenda.
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