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Man who beat civil rights leader asks forgiveness

WASHINGTON (AP) - Elwin Wilson was an unabashed racist, the sort
who once hung a black doll from a noose outside his home.

John Lewis was a young civil rights leader bent on changing laws, if not hearts and minds, even if it cost him his life.

They faced each other at a South Carolina bus station during a protest in 1961.

Wilson, now 72, joined a white gang that jeered Lewis, attacked him and left him bloodied on the ground.

48 years later, the men met again on Tuesday - this time so Wilson could apologize to Lewis and express regret for his hatred.

Lewis, now a congressman from Atlanta, greeted his former tormentor
at his Capitol Hill office.

Lewis said Wilson is the first person involved in the dozens of attacks against him during the civil rights era to step forward and apologize.

Wilson's apology was first reported by The (Rock Hill, S.C.)
Herald.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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