Arno Michaelis was once a thriving member of the Neo-Nazi movement. He participated in white supremacist rallies, was a fervent supporter of what he called a Racial Holy War, and was the lead singer in a hate metal band called Centurion. Michaelis says that "single parenthood, love for my daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people I once hated," changed him and guided him toward a life of tolerance, acceptance and peace.
Michaelis' story was featured in our post Monday, which chronicled inspirational stories of people overcoming differences in sexuality, religion, race and nationality to do the right thing.
Michaelis was kind of enough to comment on the piece personally, where he revealed that he was actually inspired by another story in the article, about Keshia Thomas, a black teenager who during a 1996 KKK rally saved the life of a white supremacist in danger of being killed by a mob of counter-demonstrators.
"It's such an honor to be included among these amazing examples of humanity. Each is an inspiration, but I'm especially moved by Keshia's amazing exhibit of courage. I was on the white supremacist side of an Ann Arbor rally in 1988, and the hate the protesters reflected and amplified back at us was instrumental in justifying the white supremacist dogma that I ran with for the next 7 years. Aggression is fuel to neo-nazis. Keshia struck the most devastating blow to hate possible and I strive to follow her lead."
Keshia and Arno's stories prove that a culture of tolerance can have a powerful domino effect. It just takes one person with the courage to stand up for what is right, and then others are inspired to follow their example.