Petition to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge draws thousands of signatures

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Photo from the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Facebook page.
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A petition on change.org to change the name of Edmund Pettus Bridge and name it after civil rights activist and Georgia representative, John Lewis, has drawn thousands of signatures.

As of Wednesday afternoon the petition has received more than 120,000 signatures.

The call to rename the bridge has been addressed by Selma native and Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama’s seventh district, who recently made an announcement on her website supporting the push for a change in the landmark’s name.

“There is no denying that Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge—the site where foot soldiers shed their blood in the name of equality and justice for all Americans—is a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement,” she stated.

“While I believe the historical significance of the bridge transcends the man for which it was named, I also acknowledge that in this moment everything must be on the table, and that includes renaming the bridge.”

This follows a previous online petition posted months ago in January that garnered more than 13,000 signatures. As with the change.org petition, it called for the bridge to be named after Lewis.

According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Edmund Pettus was a Confederate veteran of the American Civil War. After the war’s end, he served as a senator until his death in 1907. Smithsonian Magazine and the Encyclopedia of Alabama note that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Lewis was present during the Bloody Sunday incident of 1965 at Edmund Pettus Bridge in which several hundred civil rights marchers were met with state troopers. The violent confrontation resulted in a number of injuries – including Lewis himself – that drew national outcry.