Louis B. Stokes, Ohio?s first Black congressman, has passed away. He was 90.
Stokes? family released the following statement, “Our family is mourning the loss of our husband, father, grandfather and close confidant. He died peacefully with Jay, his wife of 55 years, at his side. During his illness, he confronted it as he did life ? with bravery and strength. He was always guided by faith, while embracing the prayers and well wishes of family, friends and constituents.?
After being elected to Congress in 1968, Stokes served the 21st and 11th Districts of Ohio for 30 years. A practicing attorney, Stokes was active in the civil rights movement and served 15 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He was also the founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield said the following, ?Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our founding members Louis B. Stokes.?As the first African American to represent Ohio, Mr. Stokes was a pioneer in public service, breaking numerous barriers for African Americans and for all people of color during his extraordinary career as an elected official on the local, state and federal levels.?
He continued, ?Mr. Stokes was first elected to Congress in 1969 and served 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.? He was the first African American to serve on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and was the founder of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, which remains active today in protecting health equity and reducing health disparities in communities across the country. Mr. Stokes was the embodiment of a public servant.? He selflessly used his elected positions to increase opportunities for millions of African Americans.? We will miss our dear friend, Louis B. Stokes, but the impact of his legacy of service and commitment to his constituents and the African American community will be remembered for generations to come.???
President Barack Obama also shared his sentiments in a statement on Wednesday, “Growing up in Depression-era Cleveland with his mother and brother Carl, Lou triumphed over hardship to become a passionate voice for those less fortunate. He fought to expand access to quality healthcare in struggling communities and worked tirelessly on behalf of hardworking Ohioans. Lou leaves behind an indelible legacy in the countless generations of young leaders that he inspired, and he will be sorely missed.”?
Stokes received his law degree in 1953 from Cleveland-Marshall Law school and was bestowed 27 honorary doctorate degrees throughout the course of his lifetime.