After 48 years, forgiveness for a bus station racial attack

Rock Hill HeraldJanuary 27, 2009 

Almost 48 years have passed since a mob of white men beat up two civil rights demonstrators at a Greyhound bus station in Rock Hill, S.C. One white man and one black man, called Freedom Riders, were protesting segregated transportation. They tried to both go into a waiting room that on May 9,1961, was for "whites" only.

When asked Monday night if any of the people who beat him in 1961 in Rock Hill, or attacked the Freedom Ride bus days later in Alabama, ever apologized, U.S. Rep John Lewis, D-Ga. said, "Never. Until now."

One of the Rock Hill mob has apologized.

Lewis said Monday that man is forgiven.

In a telephone interview Monday night from his office in Washington, D.C., Lewis said he read and heard Monday about the apology of Elwin Wilson for past acts of hate, published Saturday in The Herald in Rock Hill.

"I accept that apology, and would love to have the opportunity some day to talk to that man if he wants to," Lewis said. "I have no ill feelings. No malice. This shows the distance we have come. It shows grace on his part. It shows courage."

Last year, Lewis received an apology from the current mayor of Rock Hill. But Wilson is the first to admit a role in the Rock Hill beatings.

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