Frank Meeink, formerly one of the most sought-after skinhead leaders, came to Kutztown on Thursday, Feb. 28.
Meeink changed his perspective of life when he was in prison. He is now a speaker, author and foundation leader.
Even before Meeink gave his presentation, many of the students were eager to hear what he had to say.
“I’m expecting him to have some interesting outlooks on life now that he is empty of hate,” Alec Berzinsky said.
Meeink grew up in South Philadelphia in a broken home. He did not know his father, and his step father abused him. Meeink’s mother was also addicted to drugs and alcohol.
He came from a very different background−Irish and Italian−so he got picked on a lot in school because of his ethnicity. At 13 years old, Meeink discovered the skinhead movement when he was visiting his cousin in Lancaster, Pa.
Meeink was drawn to the lifestyle of the skinheads because he felt that he had a voice and had people who would listen to him. At his home, he didn’t have that; his mom and his stepfather ignored him and he felt like he didn’t fit in there. With the skinheads, he actually felt like he fit in.
At 14 years old, Meeink shaved his head and was initiated to the skinheads. A shaved head is a symbol of commitment to the Neo-Nazi Movement.
At age 18 he was a well-respected Neo-Nazi leader and recruiter. Meeink was then arrested because he nearly killed a man from a rival skinhead gang and kidnapped another man. For this crime, and many other small crimes he committed in Philadelphia, Meeink was then sentenced to three years in prison in Illinois.
While he was in prison, Meeink’s view on life changed drastically. He befriended men that he used to think he hated−men of different races. While playing football and basketball in prison with the other inmates, Meeink gained the respect of the African American inmates. The African American inmates he had befriended had supported him more than the Skinheads in prison did.
Shortly after being paroled, Meeink tried to join the white supremacy movement again. The Oklahoma City bombing inspired him to try to stop the hatred he had once felt towards groups of other races.
He began speaking on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League and appeared on MTV and other national networks in his efforts to help stop the hate. Meeink eventually partnered with the Philadelphia Flyers to launch a hate-prevention program called Harmony through Hockey (HTH).
“HTH focuses on inner-city youth and exposes them to a sport that they may not have been able to participate in because of the intense financial commitment it requires,” Meeink said. “Beyond the ice, HTH makes sure that children are taught discipline, leadership and teamwork−skills they can use in life.”
To learn more information about Frank Meeink and his mission, visit http://www.frankmeeink.com.
By Samantha Biastre