11 27 2014
  1:29 am  
     •     
The Wake of Vanport oral history

(CNN) -- He'd said his daddy always told him that a fool never changes his mind. And Elwin Wilson didn't want to be a fool.

Wilson, a former Ku Klux Klan member who apologized for his racist past and specifically for beating a black man who went on to become a U.S. congressman, has died. He was 76.

Wilson came to national attention when he publicly apologized to Georgia Rep. John Lewis. He and his friends attacked Lewis at a bus station in South Carolina some 50 years ago.

"My daddy always told me that a fool never changes his mind, and a smart man changes his mind. And that's what I've done, and I'm not ashamed of it," Wilson told CNN's Don Lemon in 2009.

"I feel like I'm apologizing to the world right now."

Lewis, who appeared on the same show, said he forgave Wilson.

"It is very much in keeping with the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence, to have the ability, the capacity, to say I'm sorry, forgive me, and the person that received the attack will say you're forgiven. Because hate is too heavy a burden to bear," Lewis told Lemon.

He said that Wilson was the first and only person who had attacked him and apologized for it.

"Maybe Mr. Wilson will inspire others to come forth," Lewis said.

Wilson died Thursday at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He was a native of Gaston County, North Carolina, and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, according to an obituary on a funeral home website.

Wilson loved to collect antiques, especially clocks. He is survived by his wife, a son, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

The cause of his death was not immediately clear.

"He was a good man," said Christopher Hope Wilson Sr., Wilson's son.

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday.

CNN's Chandler Friedman contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

Commenting Guidelines

  • Keep it clean: Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language
  • No personal attacks: We reserve the right to remove offensive comments
  • Be truthful: Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything
  • Be nice: No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person
  • Help us: If you see an abusive post, let us know at info@theskanner.com
  • Keep to topic: We will remove irrelevant posts and spam
  • Share with us: We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts; the history behind an article

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
THIS SITE WORKS BEST ON GOOGLE CHROME

PHOTO GALLERY

About Us

Twist Your Dickens
Breaking News

The Skanner TV

Turn the pages

The_Spinners
 

Your Health