(San Francisco, CA) — Musician Daryl Davis has an unorthodox and controversial hobby. He’s played all over the world with legends like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but it’s what Daryl does in his free time that sets him apart: he meets and befriends members of the KKK, many of whom have never met a black person. When some of these people have decided to leave the Klan, they have given Daryl their robes and hoods. He hopes to one day display his collection, each piece representing a person whose life he has touched and changed. Accidental Courtesy follows Daryl on a trip across the landscape of contemporary America as he meets with neo-Nazi leaders and a new generation of young civil rights activists. Produced and directed by Matt Ornstein, Accidental Courtesy premieres on Independent Lens Monday, February 13, 2017, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.
“How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? Throughout my life, I’ve been looking for an answer to that. Who better to ask than someone who would join an organization whose whole premise is hating people who do not look like them?” – Daryl Davis
Born in Chicago in 1958, Daryl Davis had a unique childhood. The son of a Foreign Service officer, he travelled the world, attended an international school, and assumed that all kids grew up with friends of different nationalities, races, and religions. It wasn’t until his family returned to the States that he suddenly and personally felt the sting of racism. After graduating from college with a degree in music, Daryl hit the road, performing his unique style of boogie-woogie with a range of musical legends, a lifestyle that brought him into contact with all kinds of people and led him on a journey to question and confront racism, one racist at a time. For the last two decades, he has reached out to Klan members and even formed lasting friendships along the way.
In Accidental Courtesy, Daryl takes the viewer on a journey from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to Memphis, from Alabama to Ferguson, Missouri, as he recounts the entwined history of black America and popular music. Along the way, the viewer is invited to sit in as he questions several current and former Klan leaders as well as young Black Lives Matter activists who vehemently disagree with his tactics.
“Accidental Courtesy is a timely, thought-provoking look inside race relations in our country today,” said Lois Vossen, Executive Producer of Independent Lens. “There’s ethos and pathos in the story of a black man who befriends KKK members in a personal effort to challenge their beliefs, only to meet Black Lives Matter activists who dismiss his mission as perverse and a waste of time. Their conversations force us to ask, what is the path to change?”
Visit the Accidental Courtesy page on Independent Lens, which features more information about the film. Accidental Courtesy will be available for online viewing on the site beginning February 14, 2017.
About Daryl Davis
Daryl Davis is an American R&B and blues musician, author, actor, and bandleader. Known for his energetic style of boogie-woogie piano, Davis has played with musicians including Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Hornsby, as well as President Bill Clinton. His efforts to improve race relations by engaging with members of the Ku Klux Klan have been reported by media outlets such as CNN and The Washington Post. As Davis said in an interview with the London Daily Mail, “establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.” Davis is the author of the non-fiction book Klan-Destine Relationships. Davis travels the country performing and delivering lectures.
About the Major Participants, in Alphabetical Order
Frank Ancona is the Imperial Wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
JC Faulk is a Black Lives Matter activist.
Gary Nigh is a former Great Titan of the Ku Klux Klan.
Rachel Pendergraft is the National Organizer of the Knights Party.
Mark Potok is a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Pastor Thomas Robb is the National Director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Kwame Rose is a Black Lives Matter activist and speaker.
Jeff Schoep is the leader of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.
Scott Shepherd is a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
Tariq Touré is a poet and author.
Michael A. Wood, Jr. is a former Baltimore police officer and an activist.
About the Filmmakers
Matt Ornstein (Producer/Director) founded Sound & Vision Productions in 2006. Since then, Sound & Vision has produced and developed music videos and commercials as well as short and feature-length films. Sound & Vision produced the Matt Ornstein-directed Atlantis in 2012, starring Jason Ritter and the space shuttle Atlantis. The film was shown at festivals including Austin, Orlando, London, Cannes, Santa Barbara, Taiwan, and 15 others. Matt is the Creative Director of Sound & Vision, and has directed music videos for artists including Radiohead and Daft Punk. He studied film at Bard College.
Noah Ornstein (Producer) joined Sound & Vision in 2008. Noah has served in a variety of roles but now works primarily in the company’s feature film division and as Sound & Vision’s General Counsel. In addition to his work in entertainment, Noah works in real estate investment and development as an attorney and principal. Noah received his JD and MBA from UCLA, and majored in political science and history at Tufts.
Directed by Matt Ornstein
Produced by Matt Ornstein & Noah Ornstein
Edited by Jason Jones & Ben Barnes
Cinematography by Sam Gezari & Peter Castagnetti
Executive Producers Laurie Harris & Roberto Alcantara
Co-Producers Jason Jones & Ben Barnes
Associate Producers Michael Reich, Daryl Davis & Allen Hopkins
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 PM. The acclaimed series, with Lois Vossen as executive producer, features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by ITVS, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more visit pbs.org/independentlens. Join the conversation: facebook.com/independentlens and on Twitter @IndependentLens.