MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A resolution to rename the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge — site of the violent 1965 Bloody Sunday confrontation during the Civil Right Movement — died in a committee of the Alabama legislature here today when Representative Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville), Alabama House Rules Committee chairman, announced he would not schedule a vote on the resolution due to lack of support from legislators.
Mr. McCutcheon also cited opposition from local, state, and national leaders, including Alabama U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-District 7), a Selma native. “We just don’t have the votes, nor the support, so there ain’t no way we can move forward,” Mr. McCutcheon said.
The bridge, which spans the Alabama River at Selma on state highway 80, is named for Edmund Winston Pettus, a Confederate general, white supremacist, Democratic United States senator, and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, a domestic terrorist group.
The bill was sponsored by a Black Belt region legislator who was supported by the National Action Network (NAN), a Christian, pro-black advocacy group with national headquarters in New York City.
The bill sought to rename the bridge The Rev. Al Memorial Alabama River Bridge at Selma in honor of Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights activist and leader of NAN.
A NAN spokesperson said the group would try again the next legislative session. In an interview, Rev. Joshua Lett, Deep South field coordinator for NAN, said the group was “bowed but not defeated.”
“Rev. Al has led more marches across that bridge than anyone, even more than Dr. King himself, and nobody will ever surpass that milestone,” he said.
“For many, many years when the rest of those who dare call themselves civil right leaders had forgotten Selma and the March and civil rights in general, Rev. Al was down here marching every year. He kept it going.
So we think he deserved to have his name on that bridge. If not him, who else has done more for the movement these days?”
Willie Leroy Washington covers Deep South news.
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