Discourse surrounding the renaming of Selma, Alabama’s “Bloody Sunday” bridge, has started a kerfuffle amongst many. The following information comes from AP News.
Named after a Confederate general and alleged Ku Klux Klan leader, the Edmund Pettus Bridge has become a landmark symbol for the Civil Rights Movement. With the nationwide protests and discussions on racial injustice, a push to rename the bridge in honor of Rep. John Lewis, who led the “Bloody Sunday” march in 1965, has started trending. Some believe that the Pettus name symbolizes Black freedom and shouldn’t be painted over, others believe Lewis was an outsider who latched on to locals who were fighting to end segregation in Selma years before he arrived, and others believe that a name change could hurt tourism in a poor town with little going for it.
The following points have been made:
- Lynda Lowery, who was 14 years old when she marched and received 35 stitches, said that the bridge “isn’t a monument, it’s a part of history. They need to leave my bridge alone.”
- Lowery’s sister, Jo Ann Bland, stated, “John Lewis is my hero; he’s been my hero since I was a child. I followed him up on that Edmund Pettus Bridge. But I and John were not the only ones there.”
- John Lewis and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, stated, “Changing the name of the Bridge would compromise the historical integrity of the voting rights movement.”
- Lydia Chatmon, who works with a tourism group, advised that “The bridge is a huge piece of the tourism industry here in the city of Selma, so it’s really important that we also consider the potential economic impact that changing the name could have.”
All of the points being made are valid from a symbolic standpoint, but I’m still not emotionally attached to this argument; the same goes for the rebranding of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. Hatred and bigotry attached to a symbol, removed or changed, will not guarantee harmony in a country founded, built, and sustained off of those principles. Once there’s a global movement, headed by non-Africans, to pay reparations to descendants of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, then I’ll catch feelings.
To check out the full article, click here. If you have any additional information, feel free to comment below.
Until Next Time…