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One man's ambivalent retreat from his racist past

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posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 08:41 PM
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One man's ambivalent retreat from his racist past


news.yahoo.com

Elwin Hope Wilson leans back in his recliner, a sad, sickly man haunted by time.

Antique clocks, at least a hundred of them, fill his neat ranch home on Tillman Street. Grandfather clocks, mantel clocks, cuckoos and Westministers, all ticking, chiming and clanging in an hourly cacophony that measures the passing days.

Why clocks? his wife Judy has often asked during their 49 years together.

He shrugs and offers no answer.

Wilson doesn't have answers for much of how he has lived his life — not for all the black people he beat up, not for all the venom he spewed, not for all the time wasted in hate.

Now 72 and ailing, his body swollen by diabetes, his eyes degenerating, Wilson is spending as many hours pondering his past as he is his mortality.

The former Ku Klux Klan supporter says he wants to atone for the cross burnings on Hollis Lake Road. He wants to apologize for hanging a black doll in a noose at the end of his drive, for flinging cantaloupes at black men walking down Main Street, for hurling a jack handle at the black kid jiggling the soda machine in his father's service station, for brutally beating a 21-year-old seminary student at the bus station in 1961.

In the final chapter of his life, Wilson is seeking forgiveness. The burly clock collector wants to be saved before he hears his last chime.

And so Wilson has spent recent months apologizing to "the people I had trouble with." He has embraced black men his own age, at the same lunch counter where once they were denied service and hauled off to jail as mobs of white youths, Wilson among them, threw insults and eggs and fists.

Wilson has carried his apology into black churches where he has unburdened it in prayer.

And he has taken it to Washington, to the office of Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta, the civil rights leader whose face Wilson smashed at the Greyhound bus station during the famed Freedom Rides 48 years ago.

The apologies have won headlines and praise. Letters have poured in, lauding Wilson's courage. Strangers, black and white, have hailed him as a hero.

But Wilson doesn't feel like a hero. He feels confused. He cannot fully answer the lingering questions, the doubts. Where did all the hate come from? And where did it go?
(visit the link for the full news article)




posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 08:41 PM
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Good questions.

This man made news a few months ago when he went to D.C. to apologize to congressman John Lewis of Atlanta whom he had beaten to a pulp during the freedom rides 48 years ago. John Lewis who had no reason to accept this man's apology graciously accepted it.

So where does hate come from? Ignorance, anger and fear... feeling threatened by change and resentment of the "other".

Where does hate go? If a person has any character at all... sooner or later it disappears like the fog of confusion that it is.

We grow and become more fully developed human beings if we are lucky, and realize all the time and energy spent in hate is just a waste...

... Our hearts, our souls and God call us to something better.

news.yahoo.com
(visit the link for the full news article)

[edit on 4-4-2009 by grover]



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 08:53 PM
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wow!

Now that did put a smile on my face !!

S+F

nice to see good stuff like this



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 09:04 PM
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Hate can come from many places...from watching or reading the media to parental indoctrination. He has defeinatley casued some pain and while he should never be absolved ...at least he is attempting to make ammends. The only person who should never forgive that kind of hatred and bigotry is yourself if you are the offender.God and people that you hurt can forgive, however if you are truly sorry you should never forgive yourself. I think he knows what his actions have meant and is attempting to atone.

[edit on 4-4-2009 by djvexd]



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 09:04 PM
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There is a really good book from th mid-1990s called "Not by the Sword" about a rabbi and his wife who "adopted" a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon and cared for him while he died of diabetes-related complications.



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 09:08 PM
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At his age as a person studying psychology.

He is going through the stage of Despair Vs. Happiness.

It is when the person looks back at their life and if they feel good they have happiness, if they look back and feel ashamed they suffer despair.

He is feeling despair, but trying to account for it with a showmanship of apologetic actions of his past ways.

For me on racism. I don't care if you hate black people white people, asian people. That's ok, your entitled to your thoughts. When you act on these feelings of racism, is when you've crossed the line.

Done and Said.



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 09:14 PM
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reply to post by Republican08
 


Well as a student of psychology you have much to learn ..especially with that assessment. Racism is ususally indoctrinated and while may be acted upon, the fact that one can or cannot change thier mind is quite possible. Even if said person acted on the ideology doesn't mean that any attempt at reconciliation should be ruled out is narrow minded and does not adhere to structure of the human mind. People can and will change...can I say for sure whther this guy means it or is just trying to salve his soul before he dies? No. But to dismiss it out of hand because you are studying psych is wholly disengienous to your field. And before you ask...yes 2 years...looking for a business degree before turing to other pursuits.

[edit on 4-4-2009 by djvexd]



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 09:25 PM
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reply to post by grover
 


Hi Grover,

A great story to show that a person that once appeared to be full of hate can show love and understanding. His admission and apologies are an incredible show of what we are capable of as humans. Imagine the feelings that these people that he apologized to had. What an incredible feeling to have someone that neither had the need nor the requiremnet to do so did it freely and with the thought of how that person may feel after it.

Thank you for sharing this...

S&F
Peace and Love to All


[edit on 4-4-2009 by AllTiedTogether]



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 09:30 PM
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I like this story. Granted it took him along time to change, regardless he has changed and maybe it will be like a ripple in a pond and make people stop and think about what is really important in life. As I have said before, we are all human, all connected. We all need to be loved and cherished for who we are. We all have value. Star and flag!



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 10:03 PM
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One of the most profound, powerful and moving books I have read is called "Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust" compiled and written by Yaffa Eliach... so powerful in fact, I am not sure I have the strength to ever read it again... yet I cannot get rid of it either... It haunts my bookcases and reminds me that there are things that mere words only barely express.

The reason I bring it up is that like the stories dredged up by South Africa's and Rawanda's truth and reconciliation commissions... there are stories and there are truth's that should never be forgotten, that should never be allowed to fade away into the memory of bad dreams... we need to know that such hate and viciousness existed... that it was fought and most importantly that it was overcome... that simple human decency won the day.

The years of slavery in our country is one of those times... but so is the era of jim crow and the struggle and triumph of the civil rights movement...

... but just as important... and perhaps even more important are the stories of the changes in heart... the epiphany and enlightenment of a soul coming to realize that they were wrong and their efforts to make amends...

... after all tales of hate and horror are all too common... we need more than anything the counterbalance... tales of light and love.

[edit on 4-4-2009 by grover]



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 10:11 PM
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Originally posted by secretagent woooman
There is a really good book from th mid-1990s called "Not by the Sword" about a rabbi and his wife who "adopted" a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon and cared for him while he died of diabetes-related complications.


That story reminds me of one about Hermann Goring.

During the Munich putsch the Nazi rioters were shot at and Goring was wounded... he hid in a door way and was taken in by the people who lived there... an elderly Jewish couple. They tended to his wounds and kept him hid.

Years later when he had power... he made sure they were unmolested and eventually made sure that they escaped across the Swiss border.

I first read about this in a biography of Goring. And have since read about it in other sources as well.



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 10:33 PM
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I'm sorry i'm not buyin it. I don't get the get the sense that he is truely repentant of his actions. It sounds more like he's afraid he won't be received at the pearly white gates. He's just seeking forgiveness before he dies, which is not the same as truely being repentant. He says "and i found out that there is no way i could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks". He's not worried about making amends, and giving true heartfelt apologies, he's worried about getting into heaven.

The man has hated blacks all his life and now all of the sudden he's sorry for his actions, it took him 48 years to realize what he did was wrong. Heck just ten years ago he was ready to leave his church because they were encouraging blacks to attend, doesn't sound like he's changed all that much to me. I don't think many people that are guilty of the things he is ever really change.

He still has the "colored" sign that hung over the restroom of the train station where he beat up the congressman in his garage to remind him of what he's done wrong, why does he need a sign to remind him, his conscience should remind him. Maybe he keeps the sign because he likes to remember that day.

I have to wonder what else is this man guilty of, that he's not willing to admit ? What is he trying so hard to be forgiven for ? Does it have anything to do with his fear of the ghost of the black man in the rocking chair in the dream his wife reminded about? Did he perhaps murder one of those young black men that he was so fond of tormenting ? Is that the ghost he dreams about and fears, is that what he is so determined to be forgiven for, is that who's forgiveness he seeks ?



posted on Apr, 4 2009 @ 10:40 PM
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reply to post by chise61
 


So repentance takes 20+ years to achieve?...what about an epiphony? While I agree it is his last ditch effort to make ammends with whatever god he is following, who are we to know what has happened in his life and what has happened if he truly has had a change of heart? I am playing devil's advocate here. Deny ignorance is this site's creed, to assume we know what is really in this man's heart is at the pinnacle of ignorance.



posted on Apr, 5 2009 @ 02:07 AM
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First let me correct an error in my previous post, i stated that he was ready to leave his church because they were encouraging blacks to attend, he actually did leave his church for that reason.

I didn't say how long it takes for repentance to be achieved, i said it took him 48 years to realize that his actions were wrong, but i see that i made a grammatical error i meant to place a question mark after that. But yes it does make it hard to believe that he went 48 years without apologizing for his actions and now when he is worried about meeting his God he suddenly feels sorrow over what he did.

You're right we can't know what has happened, or what is truely in his heart. We can only know by what he does and what comes out of his own mouth, and he stated "and i found out that there is no way i could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks". My perception of that statement alone is that he feels he will be allowed into heaven only if he gives up his hatred of blacks. Now that is not to say that my perception is correct, just that that is my perception, and it's all about the way we perceive things. That's what we base our opinions on, the way we perceive something.

I don't presume to know what is really in this man's heart, i am going by his words and his actions. All of his apologies were done in public, and most (if not all) highly publicized. At the diner (where he taunted these men) with the help of the newspaper that he contacted. At a black church, in washington (highly publicized) giving me the impression (not saying that i'm right) that's it's all for show.

Now they have extended a hand to him, invitations to events, one in Selma but now he's not sure if he will attend them because he has to worry about his safety. It just doesn't seem as though he has put all that hatered aside, and again i may very well be wrong but that is my perception of the situation.



posted on Apr, 5 2009 @ 10:48 AM
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Better a death bed conversion than none at all.



posted on Apr, 5 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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Originally posted by grover
Better a death bed conversion than none at all.


True, but only if it is a truely heartfelt conversion.

If it is nothing more than an attempt to apologize his way into heaven, then it is not a conversion.



posted on Apr, 6 2009 @ 06:47 PM
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reply to post by chise61
 


Well you will note that the title of this thread reads:

One man's ambivalent retreat from his racist past


And how could it be otherwise?

We have all done things we regret or come to regret but how can you deny or renounce your past? To do so is to deny or renounce part of yourself... what makes you, you...

And while this man may have come to regret his past, still he cannot denounce who he is since we are (he is) the sum of our (his) experiences.

[edit on 6-4-2009 by grover]



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