Civil rights leader John Lewis (1940-2020) was U.S. Representative for Georgia's Fifth congressional district. He met Martin Luther King when he was 18. In 1960 Lewis became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, protesting against illegal segregation in the southern states. In 1965, Lewis became nationally known on "Bloody Sunday", the first Selma to Montgomery march for equal voting rights on March 7, 1965. At the end of the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, a group of 600 demonstrators was beaten by mounted troopers. Lewis's skull was fractured, but before he could be taken to the hospital, he appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnson to intervene in Alabama. Lewis has been awarded many honorary degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards from eminent national and international institutions, including the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He passed away on July 17, 2020 and his casket crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a horse-drawn caisson for the final time. People suggest to rename the bridge.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge is named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general, Democratic U.S. Senator, and grand dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. Built in 1940, the bridge is a steel through arch bridge with a central span of 250 feet (76 m) carries U.S. Route 80 Business (US 80 Bus.) across the Alabama River in Selma. Nine large concrete arches support the bridge and roadway on the east side.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the site of the conflict of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when armed police attacked and brutally beat Civil Rights Movement demonstrators with horses, billy clubs, and tear gas as they were attempting to march to the state capital in Montgomery. The marchers crossed the bridge again on March 21 during the third march, and and the group of xxx thousand people successfully walked to the Capitol building, arriving March 25, after a walk of 54 miles.
After the march, on the steps of the Capitol building, Dr. King delivered his famous "How Long, Not Long" speech.
Several attempts to rename the bridge, the last one in 2015, have failed.