Civil rights landmark bridge is named for reputed KKK leader

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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.

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