Reformed Neo-Nazis and Ex-Skinhead, Frank Meeink, stopped by campus today and talked with students about his life and emphasized the need for reform and tolerance on civil rights issues. It has been long rumored that his story was the basis for the 1998 film American History X, starring Edward Norton. Meeink denies this, but in an interview acknowledges that the movie is “every skinhead’s story.”
For Meeink, his story began in Philadelphia where he grew up with his mother and abusive step dad. He never had a “home” that helped guide him and eventually was introduced to the Skinheads. Meeink says they treated him like a little brother and cared about him. He quickly adopted their lifestyle and way of thinking, and found that he was addicted to the violence that he was participating in and loved to evoke fear out of people.
Read more after the break.
At the age of 17, while living in Sprinfield, Illinois, Meeink was already an influential leader in the movement. He did a lot of things that he’s not proud of, including beating and kidnapping someone. Meeink was charged with aggravated kidnapping and spent a year in an Illinois prison. That year helped reform his way of thinking because he was a skinny white kid with a swastika tattoo on his neck playing football with a bunch of African-American inmates. He enjoyed this time with them and began challenging his own way of thinking.
When he got out, he knew he was a “broken human being” who didn’t know how to be a father or even a good person. He began working for a Jewish business owner moving furniture and over those 6 months, he began to realize how foolish it was to hate people based solely on their beliefs. They formed a strong relationship with this gentleman that continues to leave a mark on his journey.
Today, he participates in a variety of activities including working with youth hockey and producing music videos. He splits time between living in Iowa and Los Angeles and continues to strive to be a better person and “act like a man.” To him, that includes preaching tolerance on civil rights issues and helping people understand errors in their thinking. Meeink’s book, Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead, is a gruesome glimpse into Neo-Nazis life and his growing up in South Philadelphia and Springfield, Illinois. His book has officially been optioned by a movie studio and is in the process of being made into a movie.