Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) marches with a crowd across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 1965 Bloody Sunday Voting Rights March on March 4, 2007 in Selma, Alabama. During the 1965 march, which was to go from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, police used tear gas and beat back the marchers when they reached the Pettus Bridge.
The legendary Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, where the seminal ‘Bloody Sunday’ civil rights march took place this month in 1965, has been named a historical landmark by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, according to an Interior Department statement released today.
The location is one of 13 new sites to receive federal recognition, including the home of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harrier Beecher Stowe and Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson N.J., which once served as a home-field to Negro League baseball teams.
The special designation of the Edmund Pettis Bridge, however, is especially significant since there is an ongoing debate within the Supreme Court and by extension the U.S. Congress about whether or not to uphold key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, legislation that was an indirect result of the protesters’ efforts on the bridge back in 1965.
Vice President Joe Biden recently participated in a recreation of that civil-rights-era march and he was accompanied by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who was also present during the 1965 sojourn.
“We will never give up or give in,” Lewis told marchers this month.
Lewis, alongside his fellow activists, were infamously beaten by state troopers who violently disrupted their peaceful demonstration.
“President Johnson signed that act, but it was written by the people of Selma,” Lewis once said.
“These national historic landmark designations span more than two centuries of our country’s history, from 17th century architecture to a Civil War battlefield to a 19th century-Kentucky whiskey distillery that continued to operate through the Prohibition era,” Secretary Salazar said. “Today’s designations include significant sites that help tell the story of America and the contributions that all people from all walks of life have made as we strive for a more perfect union.”
“From the Civil War to civil rights, to the struggles and accomplishments of women, African-Americans and Latinos, these sites highlight the mosaic of our nation’s historic past,” said Director Jarvis. “We are proud to administer the National Historic Landmarks Program to educate and inspire Americans through their country’s rich and complex history.”