Sunday, February 8, 2009

Former Klansman is Sorry for Beating Black Freedom Rider Lewis

Former Klansmen (ex-KKK member) Elwin Wilson apologized to Georgia Congressman and well-known Civil Rights leader John Lewis for being one of the men who beat him at a South Carolina bus station in 1961:
Wilson, a young, white, Southern man, attacked Lewis, a freedom rider for Martin Luther King, in the "white" waiting room of a South Carolina bus station.

The men had not seen each other again until Tuesday when, with "Good Morning America's" help, Wilson approached Lewis again -- this time offering an apology and a chance to relieve a burden he'd carried for more than four decades.

"I'm so sorry about what happened back then," Wilson said breathlessly.

"It's OK. I forgive you," Lewis responded before a long-awaited hug. (ABC News)
Lewis took flack during the presidential campaign last year when he compared Republican presidential candidate John McCain to legendary racist George Wallace (who claimed to repent later). He ended up apologizing to McCain so then candidate Barack Obama wouldn't take the heat during a period when rhetoric steamed with racially divisiveness.

Here's video from CNN's Don Lemon who interviewed both men earlier this evening. According to the story, Wilson has wanted to apologize to Lewis for a very long time, and sought forgiveness from his town and the whole world.

Wilson said he's gotten some hateful phone calls since he apologized, one from a Rutgers University student who said Wilson was scum for going back on his oath to the KKK.

Read more details on the background of this story at HeraldOnline.com.

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