Troy University renames building for late Rep. John Lewis after denying him admission in the 1950s
Troy, Ala. – The Board of Trustees of Troy University voted Wednesday to rename Bibb Graves Hall — currently named for a former governor who had ties to the Ku Klux Klan— in honor of the late civil rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis. The name change is effective immediately and the building will now be called John Robert Lewis Hall.
“John Lewis is a towering figure in American history, whose leadership and advocacy for non-violent change have left a lasting legacy for us all,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor in a statement released by the university. “Although Rep. Lewis once sought admission to then Troy State College as a young man and was sadly ignored, I am pleased to say that he became a friend to the University. He visited our campuses several times and was a profound influence on many of us. I am grateful to the Board of
Trustees for choosing to honor this Pike County native with this name change.”
“I am proud of my fellow Board members for unanimously approving the resolution to honor Congressman John Lewis,” said Gibson Vance, President Pro Tempore of the Troy Board of Trustees. “John Lewis’ character, spirit and selflessness reflect the values we strive to embrace every day at Troy University.”
Lewis passed away earlier this summer after a long-term battle with cancer. Born in Pike County, Alabama, Lewis was initially denied admission to nearby Troy University before becoming an ordained minister, actively involved in the Nashville Student Movement. Soon after, Lewis was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders and helped lead marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, culminating in what is now known as Bloody Sunday after the peaceful marchers were brutally beaten by police. Lewis eventually moved to Atlanta where he served as a U.S. Representative for his district for more than 30 years. Troy University hosted the first public memorial in his honor following his death.
A dedication of the building is being planned and the university will soon announce the details.