Louis Stokes' Passion, Service Left Impression

Former University Ambassador Touched Many Lives

Louis Stokes, a former U.S. congressman, served as Kent State’s President Ambassador from 2013-2014. The Kent State University community is saddened by the passing of former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, who served the university as the President’s Ambassador from 2013-2014.

Stokes, 90, passed away Aug.18 from cancer.

“We were incredibly fortunate to host Congressman Stokes as our President’s Ambassador,” said Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. “During that time, we were able to both learn from his courage in fighting for civil rights and justice as a prominent national figure and to gain inspiration from his kindness and openness as a person. We are deeply saddened by this loss and join his family in honoring his spirit and legacy.”

The President’s Ambassador position was created to help promote pluralistic understanding and mutual respect among diverse constituencies of students, staff, faculty and administrators at Kent State; help address diversity challenges; implement diversity initiatives; engage students; and assist with other responsibilities that advance universitywide goals.

In his service to Kent State, Stokes hosted a fall 2014 lecture for sociology and criminal justice students on the landmark “stop and frisk” case of Terry v. Ohio – a case in which Stokes participated in arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stokes, who became the first African-American member of Congress from the state of Ohio, served 15 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was educated in the Cleveland Public Schools, graduating from Central High School. Following three years of service in the U.S. Army, Stokes returned to Cleveland and attended Western Reserve University. He earned his Doctor of Laws degree from Cleveland-Marshall Law School in 1953.

Stokes practiced law for 14 years before serving in Congress. He played a pivotal role in the quest for social and economic justice, civil rights and equality throughout his career.

Stokes received several awards and honors, recognizing his national leadership and commitment to public service. A number of landmarks in the city of Cleveland and nationally have been named in his honor, including the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital, the Louis Stokes Annex of the Cleveland Public Library, the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Center at Case Western Reserve University, and buildings at Wilberforce University and Central State University, both in Wilberforce, Ohio, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Stokes was the recipient of at least 27 honorary doctorate degrees. He received the Congressional Distinguished Service Award in 2003, becoming the first African-American to earn this honor. He was honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession with a 2010 Spirit of Excellence Award for his dedication to expanding opportunity in the legal profession to all minorities. In 2011, he was inducted into the International Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.

Stokes served on the advisory board to the International Spy Museum, the board of the Western Reserve Historical Society, the board of directors of Forest City Enterprises Inc. and the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. In 2006, he served on the National Science Board’s Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - 4:07pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 7:25am
Eric Mansfield