Great-great-granddaughter of Edmund Pettus wants bridge renamed

Great-great-granddaughter of Edmund Pettus wants bridge renamed
Congressman John Lewis made his final crossing on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Sunday morning. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As late Congressman John Lewis is honored in Alabama Sunday, the great-great-granddaughter of a Confederate general has released a statement.

Lewis made his final crossing of Edmund Pettus Bridge Sunday morning in a horse-drawn carriage. His casket traveled the route he’d taken many times. On “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, Lewis’ skull was fractured by Alabama State Troopers as he crossed the bridge for African American voting rights.

A movement has called for a renaming of many monuments and structures honoring Confederate soldiers and generals, including the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Caroline Randall Williams, great-great-granddaughter of Pettus, released a statement Sunday regarding the push to rename the bridge:

“We name things after honorable Americans to commemorate their legacies. That bridge is named after a treasonous American who cultivated and prospered from systems of degradation and oppression before and after the Civil War. We need to rename the bridge because we need to honor an American hero, a man who made that bridge a place worth remembering. John Lewis secured that bridge’s place on the right side of history. We are not a people that were made to cling to relics of the past at the cost of our hope for the future. Renaming the bridge in John Lewis’s honor would be a testament to the capacity for progress, the right-mindedness and striving toward freedom that are at the heart of what’s best about the American spirit.”

Pettus was a Confederate general who settled in Selma after the Civil War. He was reportedly the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The bridge bearing his name was dedicated in 1940, some 30 years after his death.

An organization, the John Lewis Bridge Project, is spearheading the effort. As of Sunday, over 500,000 people have signed on in support of renaming the bridge.

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