retired from Congress on January 2, 1999. He is currently Senior
Counsel at Squire, Sanders and Dempsey
L.L.P., a world-wide law firm based in Washington, D.C. He is
also a member of the faculty at Case-Western Reserve University,
Cleveland, Ohio, where he is Senior Visiting Scholar at the Mandel School of Applied Social
On November 6, 1968, Louis Stokes was elected to
the United States Congress on his first bid for public office. By
virtue of his election, he became the first African American Member
of Congress from the State of Ohio. First sworn in at the 91st
Congress, Representative Stokes served fifteen consecutive terms in
States House of Representatives. When he retired (1,
2) at the end
of the 105th Congress, he became the first African American in the
history of the U.S. Congress to retire having completed 30 years in
In the 105th Congress, Representative Stokes was
a member of the Appropriations Committee where, by virtue of his
seniority, he was the third ranking minority member of the full
committee, and the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on
Affairs-House and Urban Development-Independent Agencies. In
addition, he served as a member of the Subcommittee on Labor-Health
and Human Services-Education. In the Congress, Representative Stokes
ranked eleventh overall in House seniority. He was the ninth ranking
Democratic Member of Congress. By virtue of his seniority,
Congressman Stokes also served as Dean of the Ohio Congressional
Delegation. He is also a founding member of the
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and chaired the
CBC Health Braintrust.
Mr. Stokes was born on February 23, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, to the
late Charles and Louise Stokes. His father died when he was a young
boy and Louis and his brother, the late
Ambassador Carl B. Stokes, were reared by their young widowed
mother. Stokes was educated in the Cleveland Public Schools,
graduating from Central High School. Following three years in the
United States Army from 1943 to 1946, he returned to Cleveland and
utilized the G.I. Bill to attend Western Reserve University. He
received his Doctor of Laws Degree from Cleveland Marshall Law
School in 1953.
Prior to his election to the United States
Congress, Congressman Stokes practiced law for fourteen years in
Cleveland. He was chief trial counsel for the firm of Stokes,
Character, Terry, Perry, Whitehead, Young and Davidson. As a
practicing lawyer, Representative Stokes participated in three cases
in the United States Supreme Court, including the landmark “stop and
frisk” case of
younger brother, the late
Carl B. Stokes, made history in 1967 when he was elected Mayor
of Cleveland, serving with distinction as the first black mayor of a
major American city. Carl Stokes also enjoyed a career as an
award-winning broadcaster and
court judge. In 1994, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton
as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Seychelles. Ambassador Stokes
died in April 1996.
Stokes, a proud mother who always encouraged her sons to get an
education, lived to witness many of her sons’ historic achievements.
Prior to her death in 1978, she was the recipient of numerous awards
including Cleveland’s “Woman of the Year” award in 1968 and Ohio’s
“Mother of the Year” award in 1969.
Mr. Stokes and his wife Jay are the parents of
Lori, and grandparents to Brett, Eric and Grant Hammond; Kelley
and Kimberly Stokes; and Alexandra and Nicolette Thompson.
During his first term in public office (91st Congress), Congressman
Stokes served as a member of the Education and Labor Committee and
the House Un-American Activities Committee, later re-named the House
Internal Security Committee. In his second term in office (92nd
Congress), he was appointed the first black Member ever to sit on
the Appropriations Committee of the House. On February 8, 1972,
Louis Stokes was elected as Chairman of the Congressional Black
Caucus. He served two consecutive terms in this office. In addition
to his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, on February 5,
1975, he was elected by the Democratic Caucus to serve on the newly
formed Budget Committee of the House. He was re-elected to the
Budget Committee twice, serving a total of six years.
On September 21, 1976 (94th Congress)
Representative Stokes was appointed by Speaker Carl Albert to serve
on the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The Committee had a
mandate to conduct an investigation and study of the circumstances
surrounding the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On March 8, 1977, Speaker Thomas P.
O’Neill appointed Congressman Stokes as Chairman of this committee.
On December 31, 1978, Congressman Stokes completed these historic
investigations and filed with the House of Representatives 27
volumes of hearings, a Final Report and Recommendations for
Administrative and Legislative Reform.
In February of 1980 (96th Congress), Congressman
Stokes was appointed by Speaker O’Neill to the House Committee on
Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics Committee). In the 97th, 98th,
and 102nd Congresses, he was elected Chairman of this committee.
Also, in the 101st Congress, Representative Stokes was appointed by
Speaker Wright to serve on the Ethics Task Force.
In February of 1983 (98th Congress),
Representative Stokes was appointed by Speaker O’Neill to the House
Permanent Select Caiman on Intelligence. In the 99th Congress,
Representative Stokes was elected Chairman of the Subcommittee on
Program and Budget Authorization for the committee. In January of
1987 (100th Congress), House Speaker Jim Wright appointed
Congressman Stokes as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. In the
100th Congress, Representative Stokes was also appointed to serve on
the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions
with Iran, and the Pepper Commission on Comprehensive Health Care.
As a result of the 1990 census and the
redistricting mandate, in 1992 the 21st Congressional District of
Ohio was re-designated as the 11th Congressional District. In the
103rd Congress, which commenced in January of 1993, Congressman
Stokes was elected to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
VA-HUD-Independent Agencies. He also served as a member of the
Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education and the
Subcommittee on the District of Columbia.
HONORS AND AWARDS
years, Mr. Stokes has received numerous awards and honors that
recognize his national leadership and strong commitment to public
service. The Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library at Howard
University is one of several landmarks that now bear his name.
Several institutions, including the National Institutes of Health,
have recognized Mr. Stokes by naming certain buildings on their
campuses after him. He is the recipient of 26 honorary degrees from
colleges and universities across the nation.