Target: 10000 Signatures Received: 0
The death of Rep. John Lewis has renewed calls to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, after the civil rights icon who himself did not see the renaming as necessary.
In 2015, a proposal to rename the bridge failed in the Alabama state legislature, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Prior to the legislation, Lewis said the original name of the bridge was “a decision for the people of Alabama to make” and that “you can change the name of the bridge but you cannot change the facts of history,” the congressman said in a statement at the time, according to the Advertiser.
Former NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks told CNN today that Lewis’ stance on the renaming effort had everything to do with the congressman’s “political humility.”
“I think it had everything to do with his, not just his political humility, but a moral humility. John Lewis understood profoundly that the sacrifice of Selma was more than the heroic sacrifice of a person but the heroic sacrifice of many people, a community, a race,” Brooks said Sunday following Lewis’ final march across the bridge.
Some context on the renaming movement: The push to rename the bridge comes amid a national conversation around monuments, names and symbols that celebrate the Confederacy and their place in America today. The bridge’s namesake, Edmund Pettus, was a Confederate general and leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama.
At age 25, Lewis helped lead the 1965 march for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where he and other marchers were met by heavily armed state and local police who brutally beat them with clubs, fracturing Lewis’ skull. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” and galvanized Americans’ support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
An organization petitioning for the name change, “John Lewis Bridge Project,” said in part in a statement following Lewis’ death: “He dedicated his life to the pursuit of unconditional love and equality for all Americans. His legacy is our legacy, his story is our story.”
The petition on Change.org had more than 518,000 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.
“John Lewis was alive long enough to hear us start this process, unfortunately he is no longer with us and won’t see us finish this. But we will finish this,” the project’s founder Michael Starr Hopkins said in an interview on MSNBC.
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