Veninga Lecture on Religion and Society: ‘Life after Hate: The Unlikely Bond of a Sikh and a Former White Supremacist’

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Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location: Wausau East High School Auditorium
Address: 2607 N 18th Street, Wausau WI

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September 23, Monday – Veninga Lecture on Religion and Society: ‘Life after Hate: The Unlikely Bond of a Sikh and a Former White Supremacist’

A former white supremacist and a Sikh whose father was murdered in a race-based attack will headline the ninth Veninga Lecture on Religion and Society on September 23.

As a young man in Milwaukee in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Arno Michaelis was a leader of a worldwide racist skinhead organization. His life turned around when he became a single parent and was shown kindness and forgiveness by the people he once hated. Pardeep Singh Kaleka lost his father in the August 5, 2012, mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

In the midst of his grief, Kaleka reached out to Michaelis to try to understand the mindset of the white supremacist who had taken the life of his father and five others. The two quickly formed a strong friendship and have created Serve 2 Unite, an organization that engages students in creative service learning with a global network of peacemakers and mentors to divert young people from extremist ideologies, gun violence, substance abuse, and other forms of self-harm.

Together with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robin Gaby Fisher, Michaelis and Kaleka authored the book, “The Gift of Our Wounds: A Sikh and a Former White Supremacist Find Forgiveness After Hate,” published in 2018. WIPPS is collaborating with the Central Wisconsin Book Festival, and this Veninga Lecture will also be the kickoff event for the 2019 festival.

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