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Why some are against renaming Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of John Lewis

Georgia Congressman John Lewis speaks at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2013 in Washington, DC, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. (Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm/shutterstock)

Over 500,000 people have signed a petition to have Edmund Pettus Bridge renamed in honor of the late-great John Lewis.

On Aug. 7, community and civil rights leaders met in Selma, Alabama to discuss the possible change of the bridge, according to WSB-TV.

But while the petition reveals a call for change, some in Selma are against the proposal. The Edmund Pettus Bridge stands as Selma’s most renowned landmark. Every year thousands of people from around the world visit Selma to take photos or walk on the bridge. It now stands as the most lucrative structure in a small city that continues to suffer in terms of high unemployment rates and a lack of business infrastructure.

However, the name change could possibly lead to a new form of financial impact, as Lewis’ legacy continues to grow following his death, which occurred on Friday, July 17, 2020.

In March 1965, a then-25-year-old Lewis spearheaded a peaceful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  It became known as “Bloody Sunday,” as Lewis and other marchers were brutally beaten by White state troopers while attempting to cross the bridge.

Edmund Pettus was a known racist who served as a member of the Confederate Army and as a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. His racist legacy continued after his death in 1907, as Selma continues to suffer racial inequality today.

In 2015, President Barack Obama joined Lewis in Selma to pay homage to those who fought oppression on “Bloody Sunday.”