In 1961 U.S. Representative John Lewis, at the time a civil rights activist and seminary student, was beaten severely at a South Carolina bus stop. Forty-eight years later, Elwin Wilson, the man who beat Lewis, has asked for forgiveness. The apology began with a television interview and was motivated by a deep religious and spiritual experience. Then a TV network made arrangements for Wilson to go to Capitol Hill; so Wilson traveled to Washington, D.C., to personally apologize to Lewis.
Wilson, now 72, said that he was sorry and had tried to block the incident out of his mind but was unable to do so. Lewis readily offered forgiveness, and pictures of the embrace between the two men were shown on TV and in newspapers.
"I was very moved," said Lewis. "He was very, very sincere, and I think it takes a lot of raw courage to be willing to come forward the way he did. ... I think it will lead to a great deal of healing."
It just goes to show that it is never too late to ask for forgiveness and what a joy it is to receive it. Wilson has paid a price for his public apology. He has received some angry phone calls and letters. Wilson simply hopes that others can give up the hate like he did. Wilson added, "If just one person comes forward and gets the hate out of their heart, it's all worth it,"