Former KKK Member Apologizes to Rep. John Lewis

Air Date: 02/05/2009
Source:
NBC Nightly News
Creator:
Brian Williams
Air/Publish Date:
02/05/2009
Event Date:
02/05/2009
Resource Type:
News Report
Copyright:
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
Copyright Date:
2009
Clip Length:
00:01:09

Elwin Wilson, a South Carolina man who once attacked Georgia Representative John Lewis during a civil rights march in 1961, went to Washington in early 2009 to apologize for his racist past.

Former KKK Member Apologizes to Rep. John Lewis

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:

Capitol Hill in Washington was the scene of an incredible story this week. A man came to Washington to apologize to Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. A man who had a change of heart after several decades. John Lewis was a young divinity student during the civil rights struggle. He marched with Dr. King, and he almost paid with his life. He was beaten more than once, and one time he came close to dying. One of those beatings was at a bus station in Rock Hill, South Carolina, back in 1961. One of the men who attacked Lewis was Elwin Wilson, who came clean this week to the congressman. Wilson pictured here in a local newspaper photo after throwing an egg at a black man. He says he was a racist for years. He took part in multiple beatings. He joined the KKK. He didn't even want his own parents buried where blacks were also buried.

He says it was his church that changed his feelings over time. And the Obama inauguration finally moved him enough to apologize to John Lewis 48 years after beating him in anger.

The congressman, for his part, said this shows the power of love, the power of grace.

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