Our program bears the name of the Honorable Louis Stokes, an outstanding congressman, attorney, educator, and United States citizen. Louis Stokes played a pivotal role in the quest for civil rights, equality, and social and economic justice throughout his tenure in the Unites States Congress.
Mr. Stokes was educated in the Cleveland public schools, graduating from Central High School. Following three years of service in the United States Army, he returned to Cleveland and attended Western Reserve University. He earned his doctor of law degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1953. On November 6, 1968, Mr. Stokes was elected to the United States Congress and became the first African American member of Congress from the State of Ohio. He served 15 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, ranking 11th overall in House seniority.
In the 1970s, Mr. Stokes served as chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (which was charged with investigating the murders of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.), the Ethics Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, HUD and Independent Agencies. He was the dean of the Ohio Congressional Delegation, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and he served on the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran. Stokes' work in the area of health led to his appointment as a member of the Pepper Commission on Comprehensive Health Care, and he was the founder and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust.
Upon his retirement, Mr. Stokes became the first African American in the history of the U.S. Congress to serve 30 years in office. Following his service in Congress, he became senior counsel at Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey L.L. P., a global law firm, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University. He has served as vice chairman of the Pew Environmental Health Commission at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and was appointed by former Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna E. Shalala, as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health.
Mr. Stokes has received numerous awards and honors that recognize his national leadership and strong commitment to public service. A number of landmarks around the city of Cleveland now bear his name. These include the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital, the Louis Stokes Annex of the Cleveland Public Library, and the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Center at Case Western Reserve University. Several national institutions, including Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the National Institutes of Health, have recognized Mr. Stokes by naming buildings on their campuses after him. Mr. Stokes is the recipient of 26 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities and, on July 8, 2003, he was honored by Congress with the Congressional Distinguished Service Award.