FINDLAY, Ohio – Area residents are invited to hear the insightful words of national diversity advocate T.J. Leyden as he takes attendees on a personal journey through his life-changing transformation from a racist to an advocate for the importance of diversity and cultural appreciation as part of a free lecture presentation titled “Turning Away from Hate” at the Owens Community College Findlay-area Campus on Thursday, Oct. 18.
The lecture will begin at 11 a.m. in the College’s Conference Center on the Findlay-area Campus. Owens is located on Bright Road in Findlay. Admission to the event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
Leyden grew up in a close-knit Irish-Catholic family in Fontana, Calif. Life began to unravel for him when his parents divorced, and he began listening to punk rock and venting his rage by slam-dancing and fighting at weekend concerts. His violent behavior attracted the attention of local skinheads and soon he started his own skinhead group in Redlands, Calif. At age 21, Leyden joined the U.S. Marines and his role as a leading recruiter, organizer and propagandist for the white supremacist movement increased. He spent more than 15 years as a leader in the neo-Nazi movement, even marrying a woman deeply committed to the movement and raising two young sons in a hate-filled environment.
Today, Leyden has turned away from the hatred that defined his life. He is one of the few known former skinheads who has left the movement and retained his own name. Leyden worked for more than five years at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles teaching on the culture of hate and the importance in fighting back against it. Additionally, he was invited by U.S. President Bill Clinton to serve as the featured speaker at the White House Conference on Hate and has trained at the Pentagon, the FBI, military bases and for numerous law enforcement agencies. Leyden also has testified against individuals on trial for hate crimes and has received death threats as a result of his advocacy efforts.
For additional information about the free lecture, call (567) 429-3029 or 1-800-GO-OWENS, Ext. 3029.
Owens Community College is an accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served Northwest Ohio since 1965. With a commitment to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability, the College serves the diverse academic needs of credit and non-credit students on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, as well as at the Arrowhead Park Learning Center in Maumee and the Learning Center at The Source in downtown Toledo. Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit www.owens.edu.