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Nonprofit formed to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge for Georgia Rep. John Lewis

The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. (via Wikimedia Commons)

The man behind the online petition to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge for Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who marched across the Selma bridge in 1965 and was attacked along with other civil rights activists, has launched a nonprofit aimed to see the renaming to its end and to remove other signs of the Confederacy. 

Michael Starr Hopkins, a New York City attorney and Democratic strategist, on Monday announced the launch of the “The John Lewis Bridge Project,” which will help rename the bridge, the site of the “Bloody Sunday” attacked that helped usher in the Voting Rights Act, and help lift up similar efforts around the country, according to a press release. 

“As we wipe away this country’s long stain of bigotry, we must also wipe away the names of men like Edmund Pettus. This isn’t just about changing the name on a bridge, this is about changing our country and living up to our own expectations,” Hopkins said in a statement. “Since launching this campaign on Thursday, June 11th we have seen over 200,000 people join us in raising their voices to say it is long past time to change the name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Congressman John Lewis has been an example of courage, strength, and morality for decades. This bridge is a monument that should lift up his message and his story, not the story of a Confederate officer and Klan member.” 

Hopkins started the online petition to change the bridge’s name earlier this month, and as of Sunday evening more than 220,000 had signed. It’s the latest in several attempts to do so. 

Some, who had previously opposed the idea, saying that the bridge and its namesake stood as a symbol of the civil rights movement, have since changed their mind. 

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, is among them. Sewell, a Selma native, had opposed the idea, but recently came out in support of renaming the bridge for Lewis. 

“The voices on the streets of the nation cry out to be heard and they demand real change. Removing Confederate memorials and renaming buildings is not the change they seek, but it is an important step in the process towards racial healing,” Sewell said in a statement. “We must be willing to do the easy things so that we can focus on making transformational change. This moment requires removing any and all impediments to making the systemic changes our nation so desperately needs in policing, education, housing, economic policy and more.”

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Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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