The John Lewis Bridge Project announced on Monday that Alabama State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier of Selma will sponsor legislation in the upcoming session giving the local delegation the authority to consider whether to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The bill would create a process to allow local people to determine whether the “Edmund Pettus Bridge” name will remain or change, that can "empower and heal its citizens," the project said in a news release.
Local city and county elected officials have passed resolutions for a collective vision and work on building Selma, Dallas County as a model of the Beloved Community by 2030, Sen. Fortier said in a statement.
"Selma has had its share of conflicts in the past, just like our nation today," she said. "We are beginning to move forward with a shared sense of vision and purpose, uplifting the idea of love in every institution - education, criminal justice, business, as well as other anchor institutions in our city and county. We call this building the Beloved Community."
Fortier said, “I believe that this includes creating healing processes that encourage reconciliation in our conversations around changing the name of the Bridge. The conversation about whether to change the name of the bridge is a step in discovering truth and reconciliation process that will help heal our community. Taking this path, as we grapple with age-old challenges, also gives our nation a pathway forward. Clearly, we find ourselves as a nation at the crossroads, as Dr. King famously said of 'Chaos or Community' once again. Selma chooses to handle even the question of whether to rename the bridge in the spirit of Dr. King's dream - the Beloved Community.
“Too often in our country we have taken the approach that someone must lose and someone must win such that we don’t really listen to each other or even treat one another the way we want to be treated. Too often one group or the other group just tries to force its will on everybody else. It's time for us to seek God’s will.
“This proposed legislation on how to handle the name is a way to honor the local people of Selma who cross the bridge every day and it gives us time to seek the will of God, not just for the bridge, but for our collective healing. I believe that we must create new ways of dealing with differing opinions in order for our nation to move forward. We want to model that right here in Selma, AL, where Dr. King worked for the very same thing."