Auburn to honor Congressman John Lewis, Charles Barkley at IQLA event

Published: October 20, 2015
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The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University will honor U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia and basketball legend Charles Barkley at the 22nd annual International Quality of Life Awards ceremony at the United Nations on Monday, Dec. 7.

Lewis will be honored as the IQLA Laureate and Barkley as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Auburn's College of Human Sciences launched the IQLA program in 1994 as a way to recognize people and partnerships that have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world.

Lewis has often been called "one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced." Born into a sharecropper family outside of Troy, Alabama, in 1940, Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls the "Beloved Community" in America. On March 7, 1965, Lewis and Hosea Williams led more than 600 people on a march from Selma to Montgomery as a peaceful demonstration for voting rights in Alabama, but they were stopped by state troopers along the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The day, which became known as "Bloody Sunday," is widely credited with hastening the passage of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.

First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's Fifth Congressional District, Lewis is often referred to as "the conscience of the U.S. Congress." He currently serves in House leadership as Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, along with key Ways and Means Subcommittee appointments.

Lewis is co-author of the bestselling and award-winning graphic memoir trilogy March, as well as the author of "Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change." He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Medal of Freedom, Martin Luther King Non-Violent Peace Prize and is one of only two to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement.

"It is truly fitting in the year that we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act that we pay tribute to John Lewis, a transformational civil rights leader and public servant, whose sacrifices, suffering and courageous actions were instrumental in advancing the 'destiny of democracy' and the promotion of equal justice for all humankind," said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.

Born in 1963 in Leeds, Alabama, Barkley was recruited by Auburn coach Sonny Smith and played basketball on the Plains from 1981 to 1984. He was a force on the hardcourt, often outplaying taller and quicker opponents with his strength, agility and competitiveness. While at Auburn, Barkley was an All-SEC selection for three consecutive years, SEC Player of the Year in 1984 and second and third team All-American selections. He earned the moniker "the Round Mound of Rebound" after leading the SEC in rebounding each year he played at Auburn.

Following his junior year at Auburn, Barkley entered the NBA draft and was picked fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He would also play professional ball with the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. After being named a five-time All NBA First Team selection, NBA MVP in 1993 and an 11-time All-Star, Barkley retired in 2000. He was named 2002 Personality of the Year by Sports Illustrated and inducted in to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Barkley is currently an NBA analyst for TNT's Emmy award-winning show, Inside the NBA.

Since 2001, Auburn, the Sixers and the Suns have retired Barkley's number 34 jersey.

Known for his candor regarding social issues, Barkley is the author of four books including "Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?" and "Sir Charles." Moreover, his philanthropy matches his outspokenness with generous donations to numerous charitable organizations, individuals in need and educational institutions, including the Auburn University Foundation.

Among his gifts to Auburn is the Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professorship, which is designed to support underrepresented minority professors with superior credentials in teaching, research and service in their disciplines and a commitment to promoting diversity. Two professors hold the title every five years.

Lifetime Achievement is a special award given by the College of Human Sciences for distinguished individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Auburn University, the state of Alabama and beyond.

"Charles Barkley is one of the greatest athletes of his generation and a true Auburn legend," said Henton. "We are very excited for the opportunity to present the 2015 IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award to him as an acknowledgement of his professional accomplishments and an expression of our gratitude for his unwavering support of Auburn University."