Author and speaker Arno Michaelis joined the Blair community at the Society of Skeptics on October 31 to share his journey from life as a white power activist to working today as a character educator who embraces the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of Beloved Community. "My Life after Hate" began at 7 p.m. in the Collaboration Forum in Blair's Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.
Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Michaelis would have cursed Dr. King on his birthday, as he was wholly convinced that his message of peace and brotherhood threatened the future of the white race. In 2010, inspired in particular by Dr. King's "A Time to Break Silence" speech, Mr. Michaelis chose the Martin Luther King Day holiday to go public with the story of how he came to leave hate groups behind.
Since then, Mr. Michaelis has traveled the world working to help people realize Dr. King's vision of Beloved Community. The author of My Life after Hate shares his ongoing process of character development as an educator with Serve 2 Unite, an organization founded as an ongoing peaceful response to the August 5, 2012, Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Serve 2 Unite engages young people in creative service learning and global connection to foster the kind of human identity that Dr. King exemplified. Mr. Michaellis was the guest of Dr. King's daughter, Bernice King, at the King Center in Atlanta, where he spoke about spirituality in response to hate and violence.
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.'65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.