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Resolutions & Amendments

Other International Executive Board Resolutions

Rename the Bridge

International Executive Board, 2015


                  Fifty years ago, on March 7, 1965, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, then a 25-year-old organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, led a march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; and


                  That day became known as Bloody Sunday.  Lewis, joined by Hosea Williams and Amelia Boynton Robinson, led the group across the bridge.  When they crossed the county line, state troopers and mounted possemen attacked the unarmed marchers with nightsticks and tear gas. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized and 50 were treated for lesser injuries. Lewis was treated for a concussion; and  


                  Edmund Pettus was a two-term U.S. senator, a Confederate general and according to some a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and a member of the White League. Alabama legislators named the bridge after Pettus in 1940, fully aware of his background. There is no mistaking the message they intended. The name is a symbol of oppression; and


The bridge is not significant because of Edmund Pettus. The bridge is famous for the march, the first attempt to march the 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery for equal voting rights. Bloody Sunday drew the world’s attention to Selma and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and


                  Students Unite, an organization of young people focused on social justice issues, started a petition drive on to remove the Pettus name from the bridge. They have collected more than 183,000 signatures. 


                  The bridge is a monument of the Civil Rights Movement. Not only should the Pettus name be removed, but the bridge should be given a name befitting its history. As President Obama said at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday, “There are places, and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. …Selma is such a place. … In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history … met on this bridge.” There were heroes and martyrs of that march, but, the President continued, “John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.” Rename the bridge the John Lewis Bridge.


International Executive Board

June 8, 2015