Lawmakers push for Hwy. 80 to be named for Lewis

Published 11:11 am Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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Alabama’s U.S. House delegation recently addressed a letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey calling on U.S. Hwy. 80, which stretches between Montgomery and Selma and was the site of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, to be renamed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway.

Lewis, the longtime Georgia congressman who died July 17, was among the civil rights activists beaten while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge 55 years ago.

All of Alabama’s House delegation signed the letter, including Republicans Martha Roby, Bradley Byrne, Robert Aderholdt, Gary Palmer, Mike Rogers and Mo Brooks and Democrat Terri Sewell, as well as U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, and U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting representative for Washington, D.C.

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“As many cities across the country work to honor prominent African-American leaders and history through efforts to accurately reflect our nation’s values, we encourage Alabama to do the same to uplift Congressman Lewis’ teaching and continue to advance his message of peaceful protest,” the letter stated. “His march across the Alabama River blazed a trail to advancing racial justice, a path he continued to walk with grace and dignity throughout his life.”

The letter notes that portions of the highway are already named for civil rights activists, such as Dr. Frederick D. Reese, Marie Foster and others, while other sections are called the “International Voting Rights Trail” and the “Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail,” and Lewis’ inclusion would be “appropriate” and stand “in tribute and as inspiration to all Americans.”

Specifically, the letter calls for the stretch of highway from the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the City of Montgomery, the 54-mile scene of the 1965 march.

“Congressman Lewis fought for justice in everything he did up until the final day of his life and his life’s work, which has helped advance justice and equality in our nation, should never be forgotten,” the letter concluded. “As John Lewis graced us with his life, it is imperative that we promote his legacy to move our nation forward again.”