Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. and City of Troy Mayor Jason Reeves, a TROY alumnus, were among the six honorees recognized during the inaugural John R. Lewis Legacy Institute (JRL) gala held in February at Atlanta’s Porsche Experience Center.
During the gala, themed “The Legacy Continues,” the honorees were recognized for embodying the highest values of the late Congressman John R. Lewis and continuing to represent his legacy of leadership.
Along with Dr. Hawkins and Mayor Reeves, those honored were: Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, Chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and co-founder of Home Depot; Rodney Bullard, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Chick-fil-A, Inc; Renee Montgomery, Co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream; and Lisa Smith, Senior Vice President of Region External Affairs and Community Engagement for Georgia Power.
“I am truly honored to accept this award and I am grateful to the Lewis family and the Board of the John R. Lewis Legacy Institute for this recognition,” Dr. Hawkins said. “I met Congressman Lewis more than 30 years ago and frequently thereafter, and it was truly an honor to meet the man that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called ‘The Boy from Troy.’ John Robert Lewis believed that true leadership lies in bringing people together, and I receive this award in that same sense of unity and purpose.”
“I also want to thank the members of the Lewis family for this recognition, including Ron Lewis, Chairman of the Board of the John R. Lewis Legacy Institute, and Jerrick Lewis, who serves as a liason between TROY and the Lewis family. I am proud that several members of the Lewis family are Troy University alumni.”
Following Congressman Lewis’ death in 2020, Troy University hosted on the Troy Campus the first of the three memorial services. In August 2020, the Troy University Board of Trustees voted to rename the Troy Campus’ signature building in memory of Congressman Lewis, and John Robert Lewis Hall was officially dedicated during a ceremony in November.
Mayor Reeves, a 2001 TROY graduate and former president of the Student Government Association, has served as Troy’s Mayor since 2012 and served for 16 years on the Troy City Council prior to becoming Mayor.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored to have enjoyed a long friendship with the Lewis family, and I am appreciative of the impact and influence they and Congressman Lewis have had on my life and the lives of so many,” Reeves said. “I consider this a tremendous honor and was very grateful to be included in the company of some outstanding people. I look forward to all of the things that the JRL Legacy Institute will be doing in the future, and I appreciate Jerrick Lewis’ leadership and his commitment to carrying on the legacy of his uncle, Congressman John Robert Lewis.”
“On behalf of the John R Lewis Legacy Institute and Lewis family, it was truly a honor to recognize Dr Hawkins and Mayor Reeves,” Jerrick Lewis said. “I look up to both men. Chancellor Hawkins has poured so much into people and we wanted to give him his flowers for that. Likewise, we wanted to honor Mayor Reeves for his outstanding leadership. Thank you to Dr. Hawkins and Mayor Reeves for believing in the Boy From Troy, John Robert Lewis.”
About the John R. Lewis Legacy Institute
Founded in 2021, the John R. Lewis Legacy Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed to carry on Congressman Lewis’ legacy of leadership and his commitment to nonviolent change, equality, and voting rights. The Institute’s mission is to strengthen communities through initiatives centered around voting rights and reform, social justice, equity in education, health awareness, access and wellness.