As Frank Meeink took the stage on Monday night, a Dunkin’ Donuts cup held in tattoo-covered hands, his first remark let everyone in Alumni Hall know that he wouldn’t be softening the truth.
“Some might get offended with my story because (a) I believe in a higher power and (b) I curse a lot,” Meeink said.
A former skinhead leader and neo-Nazi recruiter, Meeink spoke to the Quinnipiac community about growing up in southern Philadelphia, and his radically unique life story. He talked about his years in prison, out of prison, and how he came to be an entirely different person through his religion.
“It was something different that our campus has never seen before,” said Lindsey Burroughs, chair of the Student Programming Board’s Talks and Topics Committee. “We always hear about people who live destructive lives, but we never hear the stories of those who turn their destructive lives into lives of purpose.”
Meeink certainly stirred some uneasiness in the crowd, as muffled chatter was present throughout the speech.
“Maybe slavery was a necessary issue in our country in order to become more diverse,” Meeink said. “We are all here for a reason and we should accept that.”
Meeink said that one of the many reasons for his transformation from his skinhead past was because of the friends he made while he was in jail. At times, he was able to relate to some of the black cellmates, rather than the skinheads.
“I definitely could see how people would find (Meeink’s) speech offensive or derogatory,” sophomore John Acampora said. “However, what is good about this is that he has made his experience positive and turned it around.”
“Our school is trying to gain more diversity and this is definitely a good event for Quinnipiac,” senior James Feldeine said. “This event will really provide a strong influence for students.”
Burroughs, who organized the SPB event, dedicated herself to bringing individuals and stories that would impact students.
“It is my hope that this program will open the hearts of our community,” Burroughs said. “It was my goal this year to bring speakers that would impact the students and educate them. Frank’s message was the ultimate message I wanted to bring.”
Meeink is now a speaker against hate groups and has worked with the FBI in order to stop the violence of hate groups that still survive today. He is also the founder of the Hockey for Harmony Foundation, a program developed in order to create a youth urban hockey team, and have kids live in harmony with each other.
“It isn’t because of who I was, it’s about what I’m doing now,” Meeink said.
Frank Meeink has an autobiography coming out in April called “Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story.”