On Sunday, Congressman John Lewis made his final journey across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a horse-drawn caisson reflecting the moral conscience of Congress.
The bridge was named after Edmund Winston Pettus (July 6, 1821 to July 27, 1907), who was an American politician. Pettus represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate from 1897 to 1907. He previously served as a senior officer of the Confederate States Army who commanded infantry in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. After the war, he was politically active in the Ku Klux Klan, serving as a grand dragon.
This is the same bridge in Selma, Alabama, where, on Sunday, March 7, 1965, 25-year-old civil rights leader John Lewis, along with Dr. Martin Lither King and others, led some 600 protesters over the bridge to agitate for the right of African Americans to vote.
While most people must move through fear to find courage, Lewis said, “I never felt fear, not once.” But unfortunately, with no fear, he was the first to be beaten in the clash with state troopers, who cracked his skull with a billy club on the date that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The positive outcome of their blood-drawn sacrifice inspired the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act just two months later.
In closing, I will leave you with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King that Congressman John Lewis repeated and exemplified: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Southampton African American Museum
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One fine body…