There is a petition on Change.org to rename the historic bridge in Selma called the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Fifty years ago, the Voting Rights Movement marched through Selma and over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The marches across the bridge led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and today the bridge is a symbol of nonviolent victory for change!
Although the bridge still has historic meaning from the events in the 1960’s, the bridge is still named after a man who served as Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, a man who was a Confederate General, and was later elected as a United States Senator, Edmund Pettus. The bridge was the site of “Bloody Sunday”. On March 7, 1965, hundreds of nonviolent protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery for their right to vote. But as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by Alabama State Troopers and deputized civilians who were armed with billy clubs, tear gas, and cattle prods and attacked the marchers and drove them back to Brown Chapel Church.
Yes, the bridge is named after someone who was with the Ku Klux Klan. So the group Students UNITE started a Change.org petition calling for the state of Alabama, the city of Selma, and the National Park Service to remove a KKK leader’s name from the historic bridge and rename the bridge. They want you to sign their petition and the petition would go to Governor Bentley, Selma mayor George Patrick Evans, and the US Park Service.
The group says that Selma and the Voting Rights Movement altered the course of history forever, and Selma has done too much for this country to remain unchanged. Selma is currently 80% African American, with a black mayor and majority African American local city officials. The name Edmund Pettus is far from what the city of Selma should honor. They want to change the image of the bridge from hatred and rename it to memorialize hope and progress.
As of July 20, the petition has around 500,000 signatures. To learn more and sign the petition, go to: https://www.change.org/p/governor-of-alabama-rename-the-edmund-pettus-bridge-after-rep-john-lewis
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