Paul McCartney has called for the Edmund Pettus Bridge to be renamed in honor of the late civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis.
“Sad to hear the news that civil rights legend John Lewis died yesterday,” McCartney noted on Twitter. “He was such a great leader who fought with honesty and bravery for civil rights in America. Long may his memory remain in our hearts. How about renaming the famous Pettus Bridge that he and Martin Luther King Jr. and others walked across in the ’60s for the civil rights movement and rename it the John Lewis Bridge?”
Lewis was one of the many peaceful protesters who famously marched across the bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965 during one of the major events of the civil rights movement. Lewis, King and their followers were attacked by police on the bridge, an incident historically referred to as Bloody Sunday. The event was later captured in the award-winning 2014 movie Selma.
Built in 1940, the Edmund Pettus Bridge was named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former senator, senior officer in the Confederate army and head of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. There have been many efforts to change the bridge’s name in recent years, and is now a hot-button issue in light of calls to dismantle Confederate-related statues and government buildings.
In addition to McCartney’s support, a Change.org petition to rename the bridge in Lewis’ honor has garnered close to 500,000 signatures. A nonprofit organization called The John Lewis Bridge Project has also been set up, dedicated to the name change.