St. Lawrence University and the Ken Okoth ’01 Black American Music Project will welcome acclaimed musician and race relations expert Daryl Davis for an evening lecture and show on Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in Peterson-Kermani Performance Hall. This event is free and open to the public.
Davis is an international recording artist, actor and leader of The Daryl Davis Band whose talent as a pianist playing a wide range of genres is renowned. He has performed with The Legendary Blues Band (formerly the Muddy Waters band) and Chuck Berry. Davis is also lauded for his work “converting” members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), which began more than three decades ago after he engaged a clansman in conversation in a country music bar.
Over more than three decades, Davis has sought out opportunities to find common ground through civil dialogues with other members of the KKK, often prompting them to quit the organization because they no longer believed in its tenets. Davis has received acclaim for his book, “Klan-Destine Relationships,” and for his documentary, “Accidental Courtesy.” He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Elliott-Black Award, the MLK Award and the Bridge Builder Award, among many others.
“Daryl’s message of engagement and respect for all human beings, even those who profess hatred, illustrates the transformative power of respect, empathy, and dialogue. We need that more today than ever.”—Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, associate dean for Diversity & Inclusion.
Davis will also join a class to speak with students about the Black origins of rock 'n' roll and explore how he uses the history of Black American music in his work. He’ll also play a session with student musicians.
The program is supported by the Ken Okoth ’01 Black American Music Project, which brings to campus a series of visual displays, lectures, seminars, and live performances that explore the history and origins of Black music and the influence of Black American musical traditions on the world. Generously funded by an anonymous donor, the Project honors the legacy of Ken Okoth '01, a beloved friend of many Laurentians whose love of music was exemplified in his performances with the Laurentian Singers and the Singing Saints.
The program is also supported by an Arts Collaborative Grant and several departmental co-sponsors, including Student Life, Academic Affairs and the Office for Diversity & Inclusion, as well as the history, global studies, sociology, education, music, and peace studies departments, and the area studies and first-year programs. Watch the Livestream.