Black and White Unite…After 48 Years

Monday, January 26, 2009

On January 23, 2009, two white people and five black people sat in resolution at a table at the Old Town Bistro in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  But 48 years ago, on January 31, 1961, these people met under very different circumstances.  Elwin Wilson and Steve Coleman had come that day, amongst many, to that same lunch counter to taunt, insult and harass a group of black protestors fighting segregation. Forty-eight years later, Wilson and Coleman wanted to ask forgiveness from the five black people, David Williamson, Willie McCleod, Phyllis Hyatt, Elsie Springs, and Patricia Sims, who were members of two groups of protestors known as the “Friendship Nine” and the “City Girls.”  These groups fought segregation and marched for equality throughout the area during 1960 and 1961.  After accepting the apologies, Williamson explained, “We forgave everybody a long time ago.”  In 1961 Wilson had thrown eggs at the protestors and beaten up Freedom Riders at the Rock Hill bus stop. Now 72 years old, he admitted, “I'm not proud of this,” to which Williamson replied,” We all get a second chance, and this is it.  It's a blessing.”

“I was in that crowd,” Coleman said of January 31, 1961. “I hollered along with the rest. I can remember the look of determination. Not on our faces. But yours.”

Hate.  Remorse.  Forgiveness.  (by Andrew Dys, Rock Island (SC) Herald)


Leave a comment