Calls to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., after civil rights icon and longtime Congressman John Lewis strengthened Saturday following his death.
Lewis, 80, died Friday after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation.
“There’s a bridge [that] needs a new name,” former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted on Saturday with a photo of Lewis on the Pettus Bridge. Author Jill Filipovic also tweeted her support for renaming the bridge.
NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell said renaming the bridge after Lewis would be fitting.
“He once told me how the Kennedy brothers did not agree to the Oval Office meeting with Dr. King before the '63 March until afterward because they feared it would be violent,” she said.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said renaming the bridge wasn’t enough.
“Yes rename the bridge. But also, fight for the right to vote, get folks registered, and then vote,” she tweeted. “Fight voter suppression and disinformation. Fight to protect protestors in harms way. Fight to restore Voting Rts Act for which John Lewis was beaten almost to death on the bridge.”
A Change.org petition calling for the bridge to be renamed after Lewis has over 405,000 signatures.
“It’s far past time to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon that nearly gave his life on that bridge,” the petition’s author Michael Starr Hopkins said in a statement on petition’s page. “Edmund Pettus was a bitter racist, undeserving of the honor bestowed upon him. As we wipe away this country’s long stain of bigotry, we must also wipe away the names of men like Edmund Pettus.”
Hopkins in June founded the John Lewis Bridge Project, a campaign to rename the bridge and remove other Confederate names from other landmarks.
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