SXSW Film 2016 Review: ACCIDENTAL COURTESY: DARYL DAVIS, RACE & AMERICA

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

In a time when race relations in the United States are crumbling before our very eyes, a man by the name of Daryl Davis takes a bold approach that few people have the courage to even attempt.  Daryl is a talented piano player who has performed Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, and Blues.  His greatest claim to fame in his music career is performing with the legendary Chuck Berry.  However, Daryl is probably better known for his unusual approach to breaking down racial barriers.  He has actually sought out leaders and members of the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and other white supremacy groups to discuss with them the racial discord that exists in the U.S.  

Through his discussions with racist people, Daryl has actually become good friends with some of them which has led to some of these people quitting their organizations and drastically changing their beliefs.  Some of Daryl’s former KKK friends have even given him their ceremonial robes.  As of today, Daryl has quite a collection and hopes to one day open up a museum featuring the robes and more exhibits highlighting the history of racism in America.  Daryl, obviously, is not without his critics and his approach doesn’t always have the same impact on racist people, but the man remains undaunted in his quest to increase some much-needed conversation on an issue which has threatened to destroy a nation for so long.

Director Matt Ornstein has made a truly fascinating and incredible film that comes at such an important time.  Almost everyday on the news, people hear about racial violence and violence either directed at Black Americans or police officers.  Ornstein’s powerful film has the same goal that Daryl has.  People need to sit down and seriously discuss what racism and hate is doing to America.  People may not all agree with Daryl’s approach to race relations, but at least he has done more to improve relations than anyone who resorts to violence.  Ornstein presents a very well-rounded portrait of Daryl Davis and what it is like to be him.  I feel it is imperative that every person who lives in this country view this film and ponder on our own beliefs and perceptions of what race relations should be and what we can do to change things.

 

Accidental Courtesy has one more screening tomorrow (Wednesday, March 16), 10:45 a.m. at the Stateside Theater.

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