EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCHANGE OF HEART
from Eyewitness News Online
A Former Skinhead Lectures About Hope And Change
Reported by: Katy Brown
Videographer: Mike Magee
Web Producer: Katy Brown
Reported: Feb. 7, 2013 8:22 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 8, 2013 9:27 AM EST
Institute , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Tom Leyden spoke to students at West Virginia State University Thursday asking them to leave racism and hate behind.
"Just because we have a black president doesn't mean the country's racist free."
Leyden says it's important for people to know what racism truly is and how it can affect others.
"Many people think when you talk racism it's like the old clan, the hoods and everything else. It's not. It's the doctors, the lawyers, it's everybody."
And looking at Leyden you wouldn't know he is a former neo-Nazi skinhead over 15 years ago.
After fearing for the future of his 3-year-old son, Leyden decided to change his ways of hate and instead promote hope.
But he says even with a black president, leaving the hate path that's not a common move for many Americans.
"Since President Obama has become president of the United States, the white supremacy movement has increased in size. Every state has at least one active group inside its borders. So it tells you that racism is alive and well in the US."
And although racism may be alive and well, according to Leyden, he says the point of Thursday's lecture and sharing his personal journey is to motivate the students and others to stop the hate and spread the hope.
"They can't just sit on their hands, that racism isn't just fought by people like myself and others who were former members or by law enforcement. It's got to be fought by everybody. This is everybody's problem, this is everybody's battle. And I want them to get out there and mentor in a positive way. Let's cure this world instead of it being sick."
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