The Edmund Pettus Bridge is famous for being the site where law enforcement attacked marchers in 1965. Now there's growing demand to change the bridge's name.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma is the site where marchers began a 54-mile trek to Montgomery for equal voting rights. The bridge is a national landmark and a monument of the Civil Rights Movement, but now some are calling for its name to be changed.
“We believe the name is a symbol of oppression that doesn't need to be in Selma today.”
Edmund Pettus was a Confederate soldier and the leader of Alabama's Ku Klux Klan - a man some say Alabama should not be proud of.
“I know a lot of people who didn't really know who Edmund Pettus was, and they're even more active now than before,” said Students Unite member Jack Towns.
Students Unite is a group of young adults from Selma. They say it's time to erase Edmund Pettus's name from the bridge. They started a petition two weeks ago in an attempt to rename the bridge. That petition now has more than 150,000 signatures.
“People are astonished to find out that the landmark, a historic landmark, in Selma is named after a KKK leader,” said group member John Gainey.
Although Students Unite is fighting to get the name of the bridge changed, some, like Dr. May Christian, say leave it alone.
“When the sheriff and those folks came from behind that Dairy Queen, I was blessed not to get hurt”
Christian is from Miami and came to Selma for the 50th anniversary events. She was a foot soldier 50 years ago and crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.
“The blood of our families is shed on that bridge so why would anybody be thinking about trying to change it?”
Students Unite is calling on the National Parks Service and Alabama leaders to rename the bridge. Selma Rep. Darrio Melton says getting the bridge renamed is a long shot.
“It's a federal landmark now. I understand the hurt and the pain that it still evokes in some people, some individuals but yet that bridge is a part of our history.”
Members of Students Unite say they will continue to petition until they get a response from the National Parks Service.