Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ex-Skinhead Frank Meeink in Skokie

Posted By on 04.07.10 at 04:05 PM

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At one time in his life, Frank Meeink used to get drunk and beat up strangers on the street for fun. As a member of Philadelphia's skinhead scene in the early 1990s, Meeink—a neglected, abused child of divorced drug addict parents—punished his body with alcohol, projected his anger onto others, and recruited other youth to the white supremacy movement. Eventually, he recounts in Autobiography of a Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story (Hawthorne) his abuse of others landed him in an Illinois prison, where he played sports with African-American and Latino prisoners and started rethinking his beliefs about race. Upon his release, Meeink quit the white supremacy movement altogether and, with support from the Anti-Defamation League's chapter in Philadelphia, began promoting the message of tolerance as a speaker on the national lecture circuit. But addiction to heroin and abuse of other drugs continued to hold him back, until the night he put a gun in his mouth, decided not to pull the trigger, and instead asked one of the mothers of his several children to take him to a rehab center. "There's only one ''I'll never' I still trust. I'll never forget the taste of that gun," he writes.

Today Meeink is alive, sober, and still lecturing against hatred. Tonight, Wednesday, April 7, at 7:30 PM, he'll appear at the Barnes & Noble in Skokie (55 Old Orchard Center) to talk about his life and his compelling, honest book, which has deservedly received accolades from folks ranging from Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West to Bobby Ryan of the National Hockey League's Anaheim Ducks (Meeink is the founder of Harmony Through Hockey, a program that combines hockey and hate prevention). Admission is free.

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