Representatives Cohen, Sewell, Aderholt and Norton Introduce John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway Act

March 11, 2021
Press Release
Renaming stretch of U.S. 80 between Selma and Montgomery

MEMPHIS – Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Robert Aderholt (AL-04) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large) today introduced the bipartisan John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway Act, honoring their former colleague, the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who nearly lost his life at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, on U.S. 80, on the historic “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march 56 years ago this week.

The bill would name the highway “The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway.”

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“Last weekend marked the 56th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ and the Selma-to-Montgomery March. The sacrifices made by John Lewis in the 1965 voting rights struggle were essential to advancing civil rights to countless Americans. The heroism he demonstrated on Bloody Sunday in 1965 should not be forgotten. Naming the highway in Congressman Lewis’ honor is one way of recognizing his contribution to history and to the continued struggle for racial justice and voting rights.”

Congresswoman Sewell, who represents Selma, made the following statement:

“56 years ago, Congressman John Lewis shed blood on a Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as he peacefully led marchers to protest for the equal right of all Americans to vote. I am proud to lead the bipartisan effort to honor John’s sacrifices that ultimately led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by naming U.S. Highway 80, from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway. It is my hope the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway will serve as a constant reminder that it is up to every one of us to pick up John’s baton and carry it forward in our work to ensure all Americans are able to fully participate in our democracy.”  

Congressman Aderholt made the following statement:

“John Lewis was my colleague and my friend. We may have been in different political parties but we shared the same goal of making America a better place for every one of its citizens. His name will be a part of American history alongside the likes of Washington, Lincoln and King. I know this highway naming will be just one of the many honors his legacy will receive in the years to come.”

Congresswoman Norton made the following statement:

“This year we celebrated the first anniversary of Bloody Sunday without John Lewis. However, bills like our John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway Act are only one way his work will continue to live on. John and I started our civil rights work together as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and we continued on together as Members of the House of Representatives. John’s historic work enabled our continued work with the District of Columbia for full voting rights through statehood, and, in his memory, The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Highway Act will encourage, as John called it ‘good trouble’.”

Portions of U.S. 80 are currently named after civil rights activists including, Amelia Platts Boynton-Robinson, Dr. Frederick D. Reese, Marie Foster, and John Hulett. Other sections are called the “International Voting Rights Trail” and the “Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail.” It is appropriate that parts of the highway should also bear the name of Congressman John Lewis as an inspiration to all who travel that route. It will help advance his message of peaceful protest --what he called the “good trouble” -- that keeps our nation on the right path.