Online petition seeks to change name of Edmund Pettus bridge in honor of John Lewis

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — An online petition has been started with the aim of renaming the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma after civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis.

As a young man, Lewis was among the protesters beaten during the Bloody Sunday march across the bridge in 1965 over the fight for voting rights in the black community. Their first march abruptly ended when Lewis and other protesters were confronted by Alabama State Troopers, who beat them. Eventually, they attempted the march again, which went all the way to the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery.

Edmund Pettus was an officer in the Confederate Army. After the war, he became Grand Wizard of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.

“It’s far past time to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon that nearly gave his life on that bridge,” petition organizer Michael Starr Hopkins said in a statement. “Edmund Pettus was a bitter racist, undeserving of the honor bestowed upon him. As we wipe away this country’s long stain of bigotry, we must also wipe away the names of men like Edmund Pettus.”

Some people are not onboard with changing the name. Carl Bowline says changing the name of the bridge would be like rewriting history.

“They walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, not the Freedom Bridge, not the John Lewis Bridge, not the Terri Sewell Bridge,” Bowline said.

This is not the first time there has been a wave of support to change the name of the bridge. During the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, there was a movement to change the name. In the last few weeks, there have been protests that resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments across the country, as well as an effort to change the name of buildings that bear the names of those who were involved in the Confederate movement.

The petition now has more than 113,000 signatures.


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