The Culture Movies

'Accidental Courtesy' lets audience judge the actions of subject

'Accidental' centers on Daryl Davis, a black man who has made it his mission to befriend members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. He calmly confronts them with the question 'How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?'

At left, Daryl Davis in 'Accidental Courtesy.'
Courtesy of Sound & Vision
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( Unrated )
  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

Daryl Davis, the subject of Matthew Ornstein’s documentary “Accidental Courtesy,” is an accomplished keyboardist who has worked with Chuck Berry and Little Richard. He also has an interesting sideline: For the past several decades, this black man has made it his mission to befriend members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. He calmly confronts them with the question “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?”

To a surprising degree, Davis has managed to make a few personal inroads into the white nationalist swamp. A few of the Klansmen have befriended Davis and shed their affiliation. (Davis has a garage filled with capes and hoods from ex-members.) Others at least listen to what he has to say. 

Is Davis’s mission foolhardy or worse? The strongest exchange in the film comes when he is confronted by several angry black activists who believe what he is doing is self-abasing and hurtful to the cause of civil rights. It is left for you to be the judge. I think he’s a hero. Every little bit helps. Grade: B (This movie is not rated.)