The New Jersey Senate today gave overwhelming support to a resolution authored by Senator Joe Cryan urging the renaming of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, is in honor of the late Congressman John Lewis.
Lewis passed away on July 17 at the age of 80, after serving 17 terms in Congress as a representative from Georgia. Referred to as the “conscience of Congress” by his colleagues, Lewis was an icon of the civil rights movement, advocating for racial justice for more than half a century.
“John Lewis was an admired civil rights leader who used peaceful protest to achieve real progress in the fight for equality,” said Senator Cryan (D-Union). “His life and leadership is an inspiration of importance at this time, when so many Americans are engaged in the shared effort to achieve social justice. The Pettus Bridge may be located in Alabama, but Lewis was a nationally-known figure who fought for the universal cause of equal rights. Renaming the bridge in his honor would be a fitting tribute to Lewis and his ideals.”
Lewis helped to galvanize national support for voting rights by leading a march of peaceful demonstrators across the Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965, where he was beaten to the ground by Alabama State troopers. Lewis, then the 25-year-old head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, had his skull fractured by the baton-wielding troopers who charged through the marchers on horseback.
The clash, which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” helped to inspire passage of the historic Voting Rights Act two months later, considered one of the most significant achievements in the history of civil rights.
Pettus was a Confederate army officer and a grand dragon in the Ku Klux Klan.
The Senate Resolution, SR- 79, urging the State of Alabama to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after John Lewis, was supported with a unanimous voice vote.
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