The Ninth Veninga Lecture will feature two unlikely friends – a former racist skinhead and a Sikh whose father was killed by a white supremacist in the Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting in 2012.

Date: Monday, September 23
Time: 7-9 p.m.
NEW Location: Wausau East High School Auditorium
2607 N. 18th Street
Wausau, WI
FREE and open to the public

Arno Michaelis was a leader of a worldwide racist skinhead organization in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He turned his life around when those he had once professed to hate, including people who were Jewish, gay or black, persisted in treating him with kindness.

Pardeep Singh Kaleka lost his father in the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek. 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 bond, creating Serve 2 Unite, an organization aimed at diverting 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.

For the full lineup of book festival events, visit

The Veninga Lecture is made possible through the support of Bremer and Trollop Law Offices, Church Mutual Insurance Company, UW-Stevens Point at Wausau, Mark and Ann Bradley, Christine and Paul Bremer Muggli, and Linda and Lane Ware, and Wisconsin Public Radio.