Removal of Confederate Monuments Brings New Efforts to Rename Edmund Pettus Bridge

The historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma is an iconic symbol of the civil rights movement that bears the name of a Confederate general.

“Edmund Pettus was a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Edmund Pettus was a white supremacist and I don’t think you need to lift both of those in the same breath,” said former State Senator Hank Sanders.

He led an effort to change the name of the bridge five years ago in the state legislature. That effort was unsuccessful, but Sanders hopes the time is right to do it now.

“Now the times are different and people see that Confederate monuments are doing a disservice to all people,” he said.

Across the country, Confederate statues and images are being removed.  The bridge, which spans the Alabama River, was the site of the Bloody Sunday march of 1965. There is an online petition to collect signatures in an attempt to convince the Alabama Legislature to take action.

However, not everyone agrees that the name on the bridge should be changed.

“I just don’t see why it’s so necessary to change the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I’m no fan of Confederate monuments or memorials or anything like that. Doing the name changes without changing the mindsets is not doing us a whole lot of good,” Joseph Rembert said.

The historic bridge is one of the first places many people stop when they visit Selma, like Ashley Blackwood, a teacher from Atlanta.

“I think it’s one of the most important bridges in the United States. If people feel really strongly about it, I think you should just rename it then.”

Some people have suggested renaming the bridge in honor of Georgia Congressman John Lewis, an Alabama native, who was severely injured on Bloody Sunday. While others say it should be named in honor of Amelia Boynton Robinson or Jimmie Lee Jackson, who were also key figures in the voting rights movement.

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