This is part of a report from ABC news on February 6, 2009
Man Asks Entire Town for Forgiveness for Racism
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's 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 US representative from Georgia, the apology was an unexpected symbol of the change in time and hearts.
The outburst Wilson said, was just part of a life of hate he led for years.
"I had a black baby doll in the house, and I had a little rope, and I tied it to a limb and let it hang there," he said. Wilson went back to a diner where he threw eggs. He went all around town, apologizing to anyone he may have wronged. Pretty soon, he found out that one of the men he wanted to apologize to was a US representative.
"I never thought this would happen," Lewis told GMA, "It says something about the power of love, of grace, the power of the people being able to say,'I'm sorry' and move on. And I deeply appreciate it. It's very meaningful for me."
On the President's Day I am thinking Abe would be proud too.