Controversy Surrounds Renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge
Every year, tens of thousands of people come from across the country to Selma, Ala. for the commemoration of Bloody Sunday. That fateful day in 1965 was the highlight in a number of events that led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act as those in a march from Selma to Montgomery were attacked by law enforcement at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, pushing the protesters back to Selma.
Just two days later, there was another march to the bridge, where the crowd turned back at a barricade of state troopers. Source.
So, the Edmund Pettus Bridge carries great historical significance. However, there is great controversy around the man after whom the bridge is named. Edmund Pettus is said to have fought for the Confederacy and was a KKK grand wizard. According to the AP, the day the bridge was dedicated, there was a parade that included a float depicting slaves.
Following the brutal slaying of George Floyd in Minn. this year, there have been a number of movements to cast down Confederate monuments across the country. Even the state of Miss. has decided to change its flag, which depicts the Confederate flag therein. There are also petitions to rename various structures which were originally named for those with backgrounds steeped in racism.
So, it comes as no surprise that the Edmund Pettus Bridge would be considered. Some pushing for its renaming suggested the “John Lewis Bridge” as a new name, an honor to the man who led the Bloody Sunday marchers.
However, there are just as many opponents of that idea as there are supporters. It is said that Lewis came to Selma to assist in the work that was already being done by local residents. So, he shouldn’t be given that honor. There is also the argument that the bridge isn’t a monument but more so a part of history.
There was a resolution sponsored by former state senator Hank Sanders to rename the bridge in 2015. Sanders now wants to rename it “The Bridge to Freedom.”
However, the bridge didn’t necessarily lead to freedom. That was granted in the 1860's, but oppression continues in the United States today.
It was stated that those who survived Bloody Sunday should be the ones who decide if the bridge should be renamed and what that name should be if so.
“Rights Way Bridge” has a nice name to it. Are there any others you would suggest?
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