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Man Asks Entire Town for Forgiveness for Racism

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Uploaded on Feb 8, 2009

http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?i...

48 Years Ago, He Attacked Future Rep. John Lewis; Now the Two Hug

By CLAIRE SHIPMAN, CINDY SMITH and LEE FERRAN
Feb. 6, 2009

Nearly half a century ago, in a very different America, Elwin Wilson and John Lewis met under a veil of violence and race-inspired hate.

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.

For Lewis, who in the intervening years became a U.S. representative from Georgia, the apology was an unexpected symbol of the change in time and hearts.

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