DOINews: NPS-Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail: Edmund Pettus Bridge NHL Plaque Unveiled

Last edited 09/05/2019

U.S. Rep. Sewell, NPS Director Jarvis, park staff and others standing behind plaque designating Edmund Pettus Bridge an NHL.
The National Park Service on March 10 unveils a plaque designating the Edmund Pettus Bridge a National Historic Landmark. (Front row, from left: U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Site Manager Barbara Tagger, NPS Director Jon Jarvis, Superintendent Sandra Taylor, and Chief of Interpretation Tim Sinclair. Back row: Patricia Butts, Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin, Vester Marable, and Michael Smith.) Photo by NPS.
Closeup of plaque designating the Edmun Pettus Bridge an NHL.
Above is a closeup of the plaque designating the Edmund Pettus Bridge as a National Historic Landmark. NPS Director Jon Jarvis spoke at the March 10 event unveiling the plaque: "The National Park Service is proud to honor the courage and conviction that was displayed here that spring day in 1965 that changed the civil rights movement and the nation as a whole," Jarvis said. To learn more about the Edmund Pettus Bridge, go to NPS photo/caption appears on the NPS Facebook page here.

On Monday, March 10, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis joined other dignitaries at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to unveil a plaque designating it as a National Historic Landmark.

On March 7, 1965, as non-violent marchers crossed the bridge on a peaceful voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., they were tear-gassed and beaten and their procession was stopped by law enforcement officers.

This display of violence, heaped upon non-violent protesters, was captured by the news media and broadcasted worldwide. The event came to be known as "Bloody Sunday.”

Outraged protesters from across the country joined the marchers for a subsequent five-day march that began in Selma on March 21, 1965, this time with state and federal law enforcement protection. On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which extended equal voting rights to African Americans.

The trail was established by Congress in 1996 to commemorate the events, people, and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama. The shortest National Historic Trail in the National Trails System, its 54 miles follow the historic voting rights march route by beginning at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma and then crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

This past weekend marked the 49th anniversary of that march. The unveiling of the Edmund Pettus Bridge National Historic Landmark plaque provided a befitting conclusion to the commemorative activities. The designation signifies the bridge as a nationally significant historic place and extends the legacy for Americans to reflect and pay respect to those who sacrificed for change.

Jarvis was the keynote speaker, with remarks from Selma Mayor George Evans, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Alabama Transportation Director John Cooper and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell.

Other attendees included Southeast Regional Director Stanley Austin, Superintendent Sandra Taylor, and Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail Site Manager Barbara Tagger.

Come trace the march toward freedom and connect with their stories at the Lowndes and Selma Interpretive Centers. The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail has begun preparation for its 50th anniversary in 2015.

By: Patricia A. Butts, public information officer, NPS

March 12, 2014

A version of this story appeared in the March 12, 2014, edition of InsideNPS.

Related Links:

NPS-Selma to Montgomery NHT

NPS-National Historic Landmarks

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