A group of anti-Trump Republicans is pushing for the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to be renamed for the late Rep. John Lewis, who marched across the span when he was a young civil rights activist.
The “John Lewis Bridge Project” petition on Change.org had nearly 500,000 signatures by Saturday, the day after Lewis died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.
On March 7, 1965, at the age of 25, Lewis helped lead thousands across the bridge in a sweeping demonstration for voting rights for Black Americans.
The peaceful protesters were confronted by state troopers and local police officers, all with billy clubs and tear gas. They fractured Lewis’ skull. Because of the violence, the day came to be called “Bloody Sunday.”
Edmund Pettus, namesake of the bridge, rose to the rank of general in the Confederate army and was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama.
Michael Starr Hopkins created the petition, directed at Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, before Lewis died, but the Georgia congressman’s death along with the broader conversation that the country is having about Confederate monuments and symbols re-energized the project.
“John Lewis was alive long enough to hear us start this process, unfortunately he is no longer with us and won’t see us finish this. But we will finish this,” Hopkins told MSNBC.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, a close friend of Lewis, is all for renaming the bridge.
“It’s named for a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and for them to rename that bridge, in John’s honor, would be great,” Clyburn said, according to CNN.