Civil rights landmark bridge is named for reputed KKK leader

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

10 PHOTOS
Edmund Pettus Bridge Selma
See Gallery
Civil rights landmark bridge is named for reputed KKK leader
SELMA, AL - FEBRUARY 13: The historic Edmund Pettus Bridge is seen through the window of a dilapidated building on February 13, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. The city is preparing for the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches by the Voting Rights Movement in 1965. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
FILE - In this March 21, 1965 file photo, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his civil rights marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., heading for capitol, Montgomery, during a five day, 50 mile walk to protest voting laws. The Edmund Pettus Bridge gained instant immortality as a civil rights landmark when white police beat demonstrators marching for black voting rights 50 years ago this week in Selma, Alabama. What’s less known is that the bridge is named for a reputed leader of the early Ku Klux Klan. Now, a student group wants to rename the bridge that will be the backdrop when President Barack Obama visits Selma on Saturday, March 7, 2015. (AP Photo/File)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 14: The Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma, Ala., was the scene of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when police beat protesters to prevent them from marching to Montgomery for voting rights. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015 file photo, marchers hold up a their cellular phones to record the rapper Common and singer songwriter, John Legend perform at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., in Selma, Ala. Several celebrities including director, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Common, and David Oyelowo locked arms and marched to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and to promote the movie "Selma." The 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in Selma and the hit movie that tells the story are expected to bring thousands of visitors to this historic Alabama city. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
View of the Edmund Pettus Bridge across the Alabama river as it is crossed by thousands of Civil Rights demonstrators during the third Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights, Selma, Alabama, March 21, 1965. The first and second marches, earlier in the month had been stopped, the first violently, by police and state troopers; the third march was completed, under the protection of federally ordered National Guardsmen. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
This aerial view shows a half-mile-long column of civil rights demonstrators, led by Dr Martin Luther King, on March 21, 1965 in Selma, Alabama, as they cross the Edmund Pettus bridge, scene of recent confrontation between demonstrators and state troopers, on the third leg of the Selma to Montgomery marches. Police attacked civil-rights marchers outside Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights ended three weeks and represented the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement. (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Edmund Pettus Bridge
Alabama civil rights movement: Selma to Montgomery march, halted at the Edmund Pettus bridge (Tuesday, March 9, 1965)
Alabama civil rights movement: Selma to Montgomery march, halted at the Edmund Pettus bridge (Tuesday, March 9, 1965)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


SELMA, Ala. (AP) - When the nation's first black president steps onto the Edmund Pettus Bridge this weekend to honor the marchers beaten there 50 years ago, he'll be standing on a structure that's at once synonymous with the civil rights struggle and a tribute to a reputed Ku Klux Klan leader.

Now a student group wants to rename the bridge that will serve as backdrop when President Barack Obama visits Selma on Saturday.

An online petition launched by the Selma-based Students UNITE says the well-known landmark shouldn't continue honoring Confederate Gen. Edmund Winston Pettus.

Although some historians question claims that Pettus was grand dragon of the Alabama KKK after the Civil War in the 1870s, that's how the Encyclopedia of Alabama describes him.

More on AOL.com
Judge rules man will be tried in Kansas Jewish site killings
Drew Peterson pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire plot
Georgia temporarily halts executions to examine drug

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners