Derek Black and Matthew Stevenson — How Friendship and Quiet Conversations Transformed a White Nationalist

May 17, 2018

Derek Black grew up the heir apparent of a prominent white nationalist family. David Duke was his godfather. When Derek was 11, he designed the kids’ page for what is known as the first major internet hate site, created by his father. But after his ideology was outed in college, one of the only Orthodox Jews on campus — Matthew Stevenson — invited Derek to his weekly Shabbat dinners. What happened over the next two years, as the two of them became friends, is a roadmap for navigating some of the hardest territory of our time.

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Matthew Stevenson was born and raised in South Florida. He graduated from the New College of Florida, the state’s honors college, with degrees in mathematics and economics. After graduating, Stevenson worked as an equity research associate at an investment bank in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently pursuing his MBA at Columbia Business School.

R. Derek Black was raised in one of the most prominent white nationalist families in America. His father founded the web’s first and largest white power website and David Duke was his godfather. Black spent the first two decades of his life as an enthusiastic aid to his family’s activism, running a political campaign, a radio network, and organizing conferences. In college, he faced condemnation but also met a new circle of friends, who challenged him to defend his belief in white nationalism. Over years, Black conceded that the ideology he had fought so hard to promote was harmful, and he renounced the white supremacist movement in 2013. He is a graduate student in history at the University of Chicago.