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‘From Hatred to Harmony’ presentation slated for April 16

T-R FILE PHOTO Author and noted speaker Frank Meeink will share his inspiring story of being a recovering skinhead, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 16 at the Marshalltown Public Library. Here he is pictured at a previous speaking engagement in Marshalltown.

How does a man go from being a committed neo-Nazi skinhead leader to an activist who promotes peace and equality? Author and noted speaker Frank Meeink will share his inspiring story from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 16 at the Marshalltown Public Library in a program that is free and open to the public.

Entitled “From Hatred to Harmony: Frank Meeink’s Story” he will speak about his journey as a child of violence growing up in South Philly, to joining a gang of skinheads and serving time in prison.

This is not the first time Meeink has spoken in Marshalltown, but he is a returning favorite.

Youth Services Librarian Joa LaVille said her teen reading club, Lit Over Lunch, recently read Meeink’s book “Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead” and she knew the general public would find his story interesting as well.

“It’s a great message for older youth and adults to hear,” she said. “It’s a good program too for counselors and those who work in the juvenile courts.”

By age 17, Meeink was hosting a cable access show called “The Reich” to recruit more people into the neo-nazi movement. The following year, he found himself serving time in an Illinois prison. But while locked up, he befriended men of all races and religions. A Jewish doctor offered to get rid of the hate-filled tattoos that covered much of his body.

He later partnered with the Philadelphia Flyers to start a hate prevention program called Harmony Through Hockey. He then developed a similar program in Central Iowa. He has been featured in films and documentaries.

“I can’t argue with you about your concept of a higher power, what makes you a good human being, but I know the greatest thing it’s ever given us … is empathy,” Meeink said at a previous event in Marshalltown. “You have to learn empathy for the world, for other people. It’s the greatest gift and weapon that we’ve been given to fight hatred.”

Copies of his book are available to check out at the library. To learn more, contact LaVille at 641-754-5738, ext. 3 or mtownlibrary@yahoo.com. The presentation is better suited for teens and adults.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com