Rep. Terri Sewell and Alabama State Representative Darrio Melton Issue Joint Statement in Opposition to the Renaming of the Edmund Pettus Bridge
June 3, 2015
Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Alabama State Representative Darrio Melton (D-67) issued the following statement in opposition to S.J.R 103, a resolution to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge the Journey to Freedom Bridge. The Alabama State Senate passed the resolution on June 3, 2015.
“I am strongly opposed to changing the name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The historical irony is an integral part of the complicated history of Selma -- a city known for its pivotal role in Civil War and the civil rights movement. The bridge is an iconic symbol of the struggle for voting rights in America, and its name is as significant as its imposing structure. Changing the name of the bridge would change the course of history and compromise the historical integrity of the voting rights movement. As inheritors of the legacy surrounding the historical events that took place in Selma, we must safeguard that history--good and bad and resist attempts to rewrite it,” Rep. Sewell said.
"This is not only a matter for the people of Selma to decide together but it's bigger than just us. This is more of a global decision considering positions from those of various ages as well as economic and social backgrounds. I understand the historical irony of the bridge being named after a former U.S. senator, member of the confederate, and Klan leader, but what was birthed on that bridge has become a world symbol of democracy and the Voting Rights Movement and that is a beautiful testimony. We have no choice but to embrace not erase, our history and heritage as a city. While the bridge carries memories of division, it also holds promises of hope and freedom. Currently it symbolizes our opportunity to move into the future with a new perspective of inclusion. There is no reason to hastily change what has become the cradle of democracy," Rep. Melton said.