Petitioners want to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma for U.S. Rep. John Lewis

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Online petition aims to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge after John Lewis

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

An online petition is calling to rename Alabama's Edmund Pettus Bridge for U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

Lewis, a Georgia congressman, was among the civil rights activists beaten by law enforcement officials at the Selma bridge while marching for voting rights March 7, 1965. The event became known as "Bloody Sunday," AL.com reported.

Lewis, 79, who represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, announced Dec. 28 he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

 

Brenda Jones, Lewis' communications director, said the congressman did not have any immediate comment, AL.com reported. According to his biography, Lewis was born outside Troy, Alabama, on Feb. 21, 1940. He has served in Congress since 1987 and is currently in his 17th term. His congressional district includes much of north Atlanta.

The petition began circulating Thursday; as of Wednesday, more than 4,300 people have signed it.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who is from Selma, was skeptical about the petition, AL.com reported.

“My friend and mentor, Congressman John Lewis, deserves all the praise and recognition for being the beloved civil rights leader that he is," Sewell wrote. "While I understand and respect the movement to rename the bridge in Selma in his honor, I also believe it to be counterproductive. While a magnanimous gesture, such a symbolic effort, at this moment, when John is in the fight of his life, is not what he needs. I urge us all to band together in support of his recovery.

The bridge, built in 1939, was named for Edmund Winston Pettus, a U.S. senator from Alabama who served from 1897 to 1907. He was also a Confederate brigadier general during the Civil War.