Westmoreland Diversity Coalition to host former skinhead as keynote speaker
The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition is joining Saint Vincent College, the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, Adelphoi and the YWCA to sponsor a keynote speech this month by former white supremacist Arno Michaelis.
Michaelis, author of “My Life After Hate,” will speak on his experience at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 29 at the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College in Unity.
Coalition co-founder Carlotta Paige said Michaelis’ keynote speech, “Not Hate-Not Here,” echoes the slogan the coalition’s predecessor, the Central Westmoreland Unity Coalition, adopted when it came together to counter a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1997.
Paige said members of the group hope the event will spark a continuing conversation in the community about the need for unity and how diversity can be strength.
Michaelis, a national speaker from Milwaukee, has a lengthy history in the neo-Nazi movement in the 1980s and ’90s. He became a founding member of Northern Hammerskins, an international neo-Nazi group committed to sparking a racial holy war against Jews and minorities when he was 17. He was a key leader of the group and was a member of the hate-metal band Centurion.
He left the group after eight years, prompted to begin a new life when the people he once hated embraced him and taught him to seek diversity and practice gratitude. Today, the former skinhead is an educator working with Serve2Unite, a global network of peacemakers and mentors battling bigotry and violent extremism.
Tickets for the event, which includes an 8 a.m. breakfast and meet-and-greet with the speaker, are $15. Registration is available at wdcoalition.org or by calling 724-834-1260, ext. 1109.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .