By Josh Herring
Racial tension still pervades most of our culture, according to professional musicians and race relations experts Arno Michaelis and Daryl Davis. These speakers will present their distinguished lecture called “No Place for Hate: a Conversation in Black and White” at the McFarland Student Union on Feb. 25. Attendees will hear a discussion about eradicating bigotry and how the interconnected power of music can make that happen.
At 7 p.m. that Wednesday night, Davis and Michaelis will discuss their philosophically twisted journeys. More prominently, the speakers will talk about how music not only ameliorated their troubled lifestyles, but also helped eradicate their deep-seated prejudices.
Students are intrigued and eager to attend the event, according to Association of Campus Events advisor Petritsa Chatzitziva. She said, “Students say they would love to hear the journey of ex-KKK member Daryl Davis who actually formed friendships with enemies and discusses how music helped him build bridges and overcome racial tensions.” Chatzitziva also mentioned that any student who has dealt with discrimination would be interested in the discussion.
Davis has genuine racial expertise and a passion for making peace. His experience as an African-American among the Ku Klux Klan will lend to rousing stories and a one-of-a-kind discussion. Also a successful keyboardist, performing with artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry, Davis uses his knowledge of music’s transformative power to help demonstrate how to bring peace in a world where discrimination still infects our cultures.
Similarly, music played an integral role in young Michaelis’s life. According to him, at age 17, he departed from musical phases of the “hip-hop tradition” and a “brief stoner classic-rock re-visitation” and discovered the violent nature of the punk scene. Soon, the white power movement became his new driving force.
Michaelis participated in the founding of one of the world’s largest racist skinhead organizations and declared himself a cleric of the so-called “racial holy war.” For years, he was a singer for the anti-Semitic and racist recruiting band called Skrewdriver.
Eventually, the young punk began to value music that was prohibited by the white racist culture he had immersed himself in; just as quick as music pulled him toward racism, it relieved him of it.
On his website mylifeafterhate.org, Michaelis says, “The music of The Beastie Boys relieved my heart of the weight of hatred, and set an example of just how lovely life could be when diversity was embraced instead of shunned.”
More information on this standing-room only presentation can be found on www.wolfmanproductions.com/no-place-for-hate.