John Robert Lewis — a life well-lived. And the symbolic re-naming of the bridge, shown in the ’toon, is especially appropriate.
In a final salute to greatness, as his casket toured sites important in his life and career, John Lewis made a final crossing of the bridge where he spilled blood at the hands of racist Alabama State Police on “Bloody Sunday.” This time, also on a Sunday, it was the 2020 version of that Alabama State Police who formed an honor guard and saluted him.
The Edmund Pettus bridge was named for a CONfederate general — a traitor who engaged in armed rebellion against the United States and killed many Americans — one of the definitions of “treason” in the Constitution. After the Civil War, he became head of the KKK in Alabama. Edmund Pettus never saw, touched or crossed the bridge named for him in 1940, many years after his death in 1907.
It is obscene that such a site should be named for a traitor who waged open warfare — armed rebellion — against the U.S. government and who represented the very opposite of the values on which this nation was founded as expressed in our founding documents, however far this nation fell short of those values.
A man who did see and touch and cross that bridge, and who spilled his blood and endured a beating that almost cost him his life, was John Robert Lewis. Lewis represented the best of the values on which this nation was supposedly founded, and aspired at great personal sacrifice to bring the nation’s practices in line with what it preaches.
The bridge should absolutely be renamed in honor of John Robert Lewis, the “Conscience of the Congress” who represented the best of us.
May 22, 2015