Thank you, Dr.
Kirchstein, Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Congresswoman Donna
Christian-Christensen, Dr. Louis Sullivan, and Dr. Maria Morasso,
Dr. John Ruffin, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, former
Congressman Charlie Vanik, former Congressman William "Bill" Clay,
ladies and gentleman.
Firstly, let me say, it
is an honor, Dr. Kirschstein, to have you present me on this
occasion. For nearly 32 years I have known and worked with
you. As you've already stated, we have a very special
friendship. And that friendship that we enjoy is born out of
many years of our work together on legislation which has bettered
the health of all Americans. More than that, however, your
leadership at National Institutes of Health, particularly in the
area of the Minority Biomedical Research Sciences (MBRS) and the
Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs has produced
thousands of minority researchers, scientists and doctors. You
are indeed an institution within this institution. And it is
an honor to have worked with you.
This is a very
special moment in my life. It is a moment that I will savor
for all of my life. It is a day that I will remember and enjoy
even more because of all of you who are here in attendance today on
this special and historic occasion.
career, both in the law and Congress, I have been privileged to have
a loving, caring and supportive family. In August of this year
my wife, Jay, and I will celebrate 41 years of marriage. What
I've accomplished is due much to the love and support she, four
children, and seven grandchildren have given me. Dr. Sullivan,
as well as Dr. Kirschstein, were kind enough to recognize Jay and I
Also present with
her today is her sister, Arlene, and two of her nieces, Tasha and
Brittany. I'm fortunate also to have here with me today, one
of my daughters, Judge Angela Stokes, a judge of the Municipal Court
in Cleveland, Ohio. I have two of my grandsons, Brett and
Eric. Brett has just completed his first year at Williams
College in Massachusetts. And also traveling from out of the city is
Attorney Roy Johnson from Buffalo, his brother Carmen Sims, and
their sister, Birdie from Baltimore, as well as Helen Parker from
Cleveland. Would the family please stand and be acknowledged.
Qwen, happy to see you. Didn't realize you were here.
Thank you also for being here with me.
It is also very
special to have Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., a long time friend with
me. Dr. Moss, as a young minister, served as co-pastor of
Ebonezer Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia, where he served as
co-pastor with Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. Ebony
magazine, on several occasions has named him as one of America's
I want to thank
Congresswoman Donna M. Christian-Christensen for your warm remarks
and for the outstanding service you are now rendering as
chair-person of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust.
You are role model as a doctor and as a member of Congress.
It has been a
great honor today to have Dr. Louis Sullivan, even though he talked
about our heads. Dr. Sullivan is one of America's most
distinguished physicians share in this special day. While I
appreciate his very kind remarks about my service, whatever I
accomplished I must share with him and the Association of Minority
Health Professions Schools, which Dr. Sullivan chaired. Under
his leadership much of the far-reaching health legislation which I
worked on and which ultimately became the most significant health
legislation affecting minorities, was conceived and conceptualized
by him and his organization.
When the Office of
Minority Health was created at NIH, it stirred a great deal of
excitement. Even more excitement occurred when my legislation
made it an office in statutory law. When Dr. Kirschstein
selected Dr. John Ruffin for this job, I was pleased. John and
the job seemed to fit one another. He has done an
extraordinary job in this capacity.
Recently, when the
leadership of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Dr. Louis Sullivan,
AMPHS, the National Medical Association, the Congressional Black
Caucus, and others resulted in this office being made into a Center
for Minority Health, we were proud to see Dr. Ruffin named by Dr.
Kirschstein as the director. It is an honor well-deserved.
In the audience
today are a number of other people whom I am proud to acknowledge. A
number of my former congressional staff members are present.
Most of them have gone on to better paying jobs, for which they are
thankful for, that I retired and gave them a chance to do.
Also, there are a number of former staffers here who were members of
the Appropriations Committee staff. And they too are doing
much better than they were on the Hill.
As most of you
know, I am now with Squire, Sanders and Dempsey, a world-wide law
firm, and I am pleased to have a number of my new colleagues
with me today. I want to thank Christine Briggs, wife of Alan
Briggs, our Washington office manager; Herb Marks, Marshall Sinick,
and all of our colleagues and their wives for your presence.
I must take a
moment to single out a member of this law firm who is also a former
member of Congress. Charlie Vanik and his wife Betty came all
of the way from Florida to be with me today. 32 years ago when
I went to Congress, Charlie Vanik took me by the hand and mentored
me. It was Charlie Vanik who, after my first term in Congress
came to me and said, "Louie, there has never been an African
American member of Congress on the Appropriations Committee in its
200 year history." He said, "The time is right and you're the
right person. We're going to move to get you on
Appropriations." Charlie said to me, "It is here that you are
going to be able to do a lot of good for your people."
That's how it
happened. The rest is history. Charlie Vanik is here
today. He is 88 years old. He voted for Medicare and
flew to the Harry Truman museum with President Lyndon Johnson when
he signed the bill. Today I want to publicly say "thank you" to a
great American, Charlie Vanik. Wherever you are, Charlie,
would you stand. It couldn't have happened without you,
Let me also
acknowledge the presence today of former Congressman William "Bill"
Clay. Bill Clay and I came into Congress together. Bill
stayed two additional years in order to get more seniority than me.
So he just retired this year. He and his wife, Carol, are
close friends of my wife, Jay and mine. I'm happy to have him
Seated here today
is Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the young lady who succeeded me in
Congress. I'm so proud to have turned the mantle over to
Stephanie. Stephanie, I'm proud of you. You're doing a
Let me also
acknowledge the presence of Patrick Swygert, the president of Howard
University, Dr. Floyd Malveaux, the dean of the medical school at
Howard University. Dr. Vivian Wiggins Penn is somewhere
here in the audience. She is the director of the women's
health division of NIH, a past president of the National Medical
Association, and a brilliant woman. Dr. Gary Dennis, I see,
the past president of the National Medical Association. Dr.
Nathan Burger, dean of Case Western Reserve Medical School.
Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti, the director of the National Prion Disease
Center of Case Western Reserve Medical School. Also Bobby
Mitchell and his wife, Qwen. Bobby, as all of you know, is a
Washington Redskins Hall of Famer. They are also longtime
friends of ours.
I want to also
acknowledge on this occasion the members of Blacks in Government
known as BIG. Little has been said about it today and I do not
intend to dwell on it. But during the 70s, the 80s, and even
the 90s, they were in the forefront here at the institution in
fighting for inclusion of minorities in all aspects of the NIH.
A lot of my time was consumed in addressing issues here related to
discrimination and inequality of opportunity which was not a part of
my congressional responsibilities. But I want to say that to
the credit of the NIH, this institution was always responsive to my
concerns and, as a result of many meetings over many years, I
believe a great deal was accomplished. But a large pat of the
credit must also go to BIG for their leadership.
Lastly, I was absolutely
surprised and stunned three years ago when Chairman John Porter
announced that a building on the campus at NIH was going to be
designated in my honor as the Louis Stokes Laboratories. The
announcement came as we finished marking up my last Labor, Health,
Human Services and Education bill. I had no idea what it would
be like to have a building bearing my name on the campus at the
National Institutes of Health, the greatest research institution in
the world It is totally overwhelming.
The enormity of it
was perhaps best expressed by my wife, Jay. One Sunday about
six or more months ago, she and I drove past this building while it
was still under construction. As I walked along with her and
looked at this building in total amazement, she turned to me and
said, "Just think. From a little boy in the projects in
Cleveland to a building named after you at the National Institutes
of Health." That really summed it up.
This is a
magnificent and beautiful building. Certainly Frank Kutlak and all
of those who were connected with this building in every respect
ought to be commended for this building which is destined to
certainly win many more awards. Frank, I appreciate the time
you've taken with me and my wife to make us feel a very warm part of
what you've done here and I just say, you are a magnificent
architect. He deserves another great big hand. Thank you.
But even now there
are no words to adequately express how honored I am.
Hopefully, out of this research building will come the final fruits
of my work and that of many others to eliminate the disparities
which exist in minority and women's health in America. Even
greater joy will come with the realization that building bearing my
name will produce future medical and research to prolong life and
benefit all mankind. Then I will be able to proclaim in the
words of George Bernard Shaw who said, and I quote him,
"Life is no
brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I've
got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as
possible before handing on to future generations."
Thank you very,