Clyburn echoes calls to rename Pettus bridge

Greg Nash

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) echoed calls on Saturday for the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to be renamed after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died on Friday. 

Lewis, who represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for over three decades, was beaten on “Bloody Sunday” during a march across the bridge in 1965.

Clyburn and Lewis served in Congress together for over 25 years and were foundational figures in the Civil Rights Movement. 

Pettus was a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader.

“I think you ought to take a nice picture of that bridge with Pettus’s name on it, put it in a museum somewhere dedicated to the Confederacy and then rename that bridge and repaint it, redecorate it the John R. Lewis Bridge,” Clyburn said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”  

I believe that will give the people of Selma something to rally around. I believe that will make a statement for people in this country that we do believe in that pledge, that vision of this country that’s in the last phrase of the pledge – ‘for liberty and justice for all,” he continued. 

“Edmund Pettus was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.Take his name off that bridge and replace it with a good man — John Lewis, the personification of the goodness of America — rather than to honor someone who disrespected individual freedoms.”

Many also took to Twitter in the wake of the civil rights icon’s death to push for the change. 

“There’s a bridge [that] needs a new name,” former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted.

“It would be fitting to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after John Lewis, the conscience of Congress,” NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell shared.

“He once told me how the Kennedy brothers did not agree to the Oval Office meeting with Dr. King before the ‘63 March until afterward because they feared it would be violent.”  

Clyburn’s remarks echo the sentiments of a petition created last month on Change.Org calling for the bridge to be renamed after Lewis. The petition has garnered nearly 445,000 signatures as of Saturday night.  

Lewis returned to the bridge annually to reenact the march with other lawmakers, activists and community leaders such as former President Barack Obama and his family. 

Tags Barack Obama John Lewis Preet Bharara

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