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Selma Congresswoman Opposed to Renaming Edmund Pettus Bridge

Sewell, the congresswoman from Selma. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sewell, the congresswoman from Selma. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., who represents Selma and grew up there, has come out strong against renaming the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the Bloody Sunday clash between civil rights marchers and Alabama law enforcement.  

On June 3, the Alabama Senate voted to rename the bridge, named after a Confederate general and grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, to the Journey to Freedom Bridge. Sewell, who is African-American, said it is important to recognize the history, all of it, behind the bridge. “I am strongly opposed to changing the name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The historical irony is an integral part of the complicated history of Selma — a city known for its pivotal role in Civil War and the civil rights movement. The bridge is an iconic symbol of the struggle for voting rights in America, and its name is as significant as its imposing structure. Changing the name of the bridge would change the course of history and compromise the historical integrity of the voting rights movement. As inheritors of the legacy surrounding the historical events that took place in Selma, we must safeguard that history — good and bad and resist attempts to rewrite it,” a release from Sewell’s office states.  

The city of Selma hosted thousands in February and March who came to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was among the protesters beaten on March 7, 1965. The Alabama House and governor would still have to sign off on the renaming.  

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated the year of Bloody Sunday. 

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