|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1969 - January 3, 1999
|Stephanie Tubbs Jones|
|Constituency||21st district (1969-93)|
11th district (1993-99)
|Chair of House Ethics Committee|
January 3, 1991 - January 3, 1993
|Julian C. Dixon|
January 3, 1981 - January 3, 1985
|Julian C. Dixon|
|Chair of House Intelligence Committee|
January 3, 1987 - January 3, 1989
|Lee H. Hamilton|
|Born||February 23, 1925|
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||August 18, 2015 (aged 90)|
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Relatives||Carl Stokes (Brother)|
|Education||Case Western Reserve University|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1943-1946|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Louis Stokes (February 23, 1925 - August 18, 2015) was an American attorney, civil rights pioneer and politician. He served 15 terms in the United States House of Representatives - representing the east side of Cleveland - and was the first African American congressman elected in the state of Ohio. He was one of the Cold War-era chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee, headed the Congressional Black Caucus, and was the first African American on the House Appropriations Committee.
Stokes was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Louise (née Stone) and Charles Stokes. He and his brother, politician Carl B. Stokes, lived in one of the first federally funded housing projects, the Outhwaite Homes. Stokes attended Central High School and later served in the U.S. Army from 1943-46. After attending Western Reserve University and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law on the G.I. Bill, Stokes began practicing law in Cleveland in 1953. He argued the "stop and frisk" case of Terry v. Ohio before the United States Supreme Court in 1968. Later in 1968, he was elected to the House, representing the 21st District of Ohio on Cleveland's East Side. He shifted to the newly created 11th District, covering much of the same area following a 1992 redistricting. Stokes served 30 years in total, retiring in 1999.
Stokes' tenure in the House of Representatives included service on the House Appropriations Committee, where he was influential in bringing revenue to Cleveland. He was particularly interested in veterans' issues and secured funds for health-care facilities for veterans in Cleveland.
In the 1970s, Stokes served as Chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, charged with investigating the murders of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.. He served on the House committee that investigated the Iran-Contra Affair. As Chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Stokes oversaw the committee's investigation of a corruption scandal known as ABSCAM in 1979-80, which eventually led to convictions of one senator and six House members. Recalling Stokes, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said: "We were in the midst of a huge ... corruption scandal, and public service was taking a public beating. But Lou Stokes was there as a shining beacon of integrity, of excellence and most important of all for us, of justice."
In 1992, Stokes ran for president as an Ohio favorite son, winning the delegates from his home district in Ohio, and then, in a minor Democratic convention drama, refused to release the delegate's votes until the Clinton campaign formally asked for them.
Following his time in Congress, Stokes became a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He actively served in this role until the time of his death.
Stokes' daughter, Angela, is a former Cleveland Municipal Court judge who served from 1995 through 2015, while another, Lori, is the Co-anchor of Good Day New York WNYW Fox 5. His son, Chuck, is also a journalist with WXYZ-TV in Detroit. Stokes' brother, Carl B. Stokes, was the first African American mayor of a large American city. Stokes was a cousin of funk and R&B musician Rick James.
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority opened the Louis Stokes Museum on September 13, 2007. This Museum houses Stokes memorabilia, video interviews, misc. video footage, awards and a written history about Stokes and his rise to prominence. The museum is located at Outhwaite Homes, 4302 Quincy Avenue.
From 2006-08, the Western Reserve Historical Society opened an exhibition on the lives of Congressman Stokes and his brother titled "Carl and Louis Stokes: From the Projects to Politics". The exhibit uses photographs, manuscript collections, and personal items to showcase Louis Stokes' rise from the Outhwaite homes, his legal career, and his Congressional service. The former Congressman was inducted into the Karamu House Hall of Fame in 2007 for his contributions to the continued legacy of Cleveland's black settlement house and theatre.
Many buildings throughout the country have been named in Stokes honor including: Howard University's medical library, the Cleveland Public Library's main building expansion, and the GCRTA's Windermere station Louis Stokes Station at Windermere. The greater Cleveland area Veteran's hospital was renamed the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Building 50 on the campus of the National Institutes of Health is named the Louis Stokes Laboratories.