By JOHN KANELIS / email@example.com
Marchers today marked the 56th anniversary of what has become known as “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights activists marched across a bridge in Selma, Ala., demanding equal rights for all Americans.
What absolutely, categorically boggles my noggin is why this span continues to carry the name “Edmund Pettus,” and why it hasn’t been changed to honor the heroism of those who marched for civil rights and for an end to the oppression of many Americans.
Edmund Pettus was a Confederate military officer, a lawyer, a senator from Alabama — and a staunch advocate of slavery.
Today’s march across the bridge marked the first such event without the presence of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who suffered a terrible beating on that day in 1965. Lewis went on to serve a distinguished career in Congress, where he became known as the “soul” and the “conscience” of that legislative body.
I know I am far from alone in advocating this, but the Edmund Pettus Bridge needs to be renamed after John Lewis, who admittedly didn’t favor changing the name of the bridge. He said, “Keeping the name of the Bridge is not an endorsement of the man who bears its name but rather an acknowledgement that the name of the Bridge today is synonymous with the Voting Rights Movement which changed the face of this nation and the world.”
Rep. Lewis is no longer around to object. Perhaps others will object in his honor. I happen to believe that the Edmund Pettus Bridge is a historical landmark that pays tribute to someone who symbolized a disgraced political philosophy.
John Lewis likely wouldn’t say so himself, but putting his name on that bridge also would be “synonymous with the Voting Rights Movement which changed the face of this nation and the world.”