( 4UMF NEWS ) Ohio’s First Black Senator Passes Away:
Louis Stokes, the first African-American member of Congress from the state of Ohio, died late Tuesday at the age of 90.
His 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.
“We are grateful for the cards, prayers and words of comfort during this difficult time. He loved Cleveland and was honored to have the opportunity to represent its citizens in the United States Congress. He was equally committed to our family, and his love knew no bounds. It is this enduring love that will sustain us in the days and years to come.”
On July 20, his media representative released a statement that Stokes, who served the 21st and 11th Districts of Ohio for 30 years, had recently been diagnosed with lung and brain cancer.
On Nov. 6, 1968, Stokes was elected to Congress on his first bid for public office. He served 15 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In January, Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed him as one of 18 members to the Community-Police Relations task force that will provide ideas to build relationships between police and their communities.
He celebrated his 90th birthday in February.
Stokes was educated in the Cleveland Public Schools, graduating from Central High School. After 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 and practiced law for 14 years before serving in Congress.
As a practicing lawyer, he participated in three cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including arguing the landmark “stop and frisk” case of Terry v. Ohio. He played a pivotal role in the quest for social and economic justice, civil rights and equality throughout his career.
Stokes was the recipient of 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.
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