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A Tribute to the Honorable Louis Stokes

Call & Post Publisher Don King

“The Call & Post Newspaper, the community of Cleveland and the Buckeye state of Ohio has lost its gentle GIANT in Louis Stokes.

He was the greatest advocate in public service that America has ever had and here in Cleveland he was our favorite son.

While it will be impossible to ever fill the enormous void that he has left behind, we are now responsible for cherishing and maintaining his wonderful legacy for years to come.”

President Obama Praises Lou Stokes

"Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of former Congressman Louis Stokes. As a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first African-American to represent the state of Ohio in Congress, Lou believed deeply in fairness and the idea that every American should have the same opportunity to succeed. Growing up in Depression-era Cleveland with his mother and brother Carl, Lou triumphed over hardship to become a passionate voice for those less fortunate. He fought to expand access to quality healthcare in struggling communities and worked tirelessly on behalf of hardworking Ohioans. Lou leaves behind an indelible legacy in the countless generations of young leaders that he inspired, and he will be sorely missed. Michelle and I send our condolences to his wife Jay and the family and friends who loved him so dearly."

Statement from President Clinton and Secretary Clinton

"Hillary and I mourn the loss of our friend Louis Stokes, who served the people of Cleveland in Congress for 30 years with a rare combination of toughness and grace. I will always be grateful for his good counsel, his strong support, and his steadfast friendship. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lou's wife, Jay, his children, and his grandchildren."

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge

“Congressman Stokes was my predecessor, mentor and friend. He was a giant of a man - the person who everyone measured themselves against. It was easy to think of him as almost immortal.

“For more than 30 years, Congressman Stokes tirelessly fought for the people of Ohio. He was our leader in good times and bad. The first African American elected to Congress from Ohio, Congressman Stokes was the epitome of a public servant.

“While in Washington, he was a trailblazer. He was the first African American to serve on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and was a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and its Health Braintrust. He constantly fought to combat pervasive health disparities plaguing the African-American community and served as a voice for people who could not speak for themselves.

“His work affected thousands. When he spoke, people listened. Congressman Stokes exuded leadership, vision and purpose. He was an example for us all. It was a privilege to work with him and walk in his Congressional footsteps.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jay, children, Shelley, Angela, Louis, and Lori, and his entire family during this difficult time. As the Book of Matthew says, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.'

"The greater Cleveland community, state of Ohio, and nation are indebted to Congressman Stokes. We are grateful for his time with us and his dedication to public service."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich

“I’m saddened by the loss of my friend Lou Stokes,” said Kasich. “He was a giant, who led by his conviction as much as he did by his personal grace. I am proud to have served in Congress with him. Cleveland, Ohio and America are stronger for his service and I hope reflecting on that can inspire future leaders at a time when we need to come together more as a country. My family’s thoughts and prayers go out to his at this difficult time.”

U.S. Senator Rob Portman

“The city of Cleveland and our nation lost an icon this week. Lou Stokes dedicated his life to lifting up others and expanding opportunities for those most in need. He was effective because he knew how to bring people together to solve problems and, as a result, he had a meaningful impact on countless lives in his beloved hometown of Cleveland and around the country. I had the pleasure of serving with Lou in the U.S. House, where we cosponsored a number of bills together, and collaborated on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in my hometown of Cincinnati. I was then fortunate to be his colleague at Squire, Sanders law firm. I had the opportunity to visit with Lou in Cleveland just last week, where I was able to express my gratitude for his friendship and for his remarkable public service career. Jane and I send our deepest condolences to Lou’s wife Jay and their entire family.”

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

Lou Stokes always did the right thing and spent his life fighting for Ohioans. I've been proud to call him a friend and a mentor, whose counsel I relied on for 30 years. Lou Stokes continued to stand up for northeast Ohioans ‎long after he left Congress.‎ He'll be remembered in the communities he strengthened, the veterans he served, and the many lives he touched. Connie and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family.

Ohio Senator Sandra Williams

“My heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to Mrs. Stokes and his entire family. Congressman Stokes was a compassionate leader who was always willing to provide valuable advice to me and others who were willing to listen. His leadership on civil rights, social justice, and voting rights helped to propel the African American community through very challenging times. His presence will be missed but his advice and legacy will live on forever.”

Congressman Stokes represented Cleveland’s east side for thirty years in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stokes was the Third Chairman on the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, charged with investigating the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President John F. Kennedy. Stokes attended Case Western Reserve University on the G.I. Bill after serving in World War II. He went on to earn his Doctor of Law degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson

“It is not often that someone is able to come along and impact the history of a city and nation as Congressman Louis Stokes did. The City of Cleveland’s success, history, and people were profoundly influenced by his work as a public servant. Cleveland’s progress as a city is directly tied to Congressman Stokes’ leadership and his career acts as a model for many on how to serve with integrity and dignity.

“The best way to honor Congressman Stokes is to remember the Stokes Era in Cleveland that he began along with his brother, the honorable Ambassador and Mayor Carl B. Stokes. Theirs is a legacy that is embedded within the past and future of Cleveland. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Congressman Louis Stokes during this difficult time. Cleveland and the nation has lost a true champion of the people and I have lost a friend.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43)

“We lost yet another icon – my friend and former colleague Congressman Louis Stokes. Lou dedicated his life to public service and giving a voice to the voiceless, whether he was fighting to protect affordable housing or ensuring that America’s veterans were treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Lou was a giant in the House of Representatives and in the community he served.

“I especially enjoyed working with Lou to address the tragic impact of HIV/ADS in minority communities. Together with the Clinton Administration and our colleagues in the CBC, Lou and I founded the Minority AIDS Initiative in 1998. The Initiative continues to assist Black, Latino and other minority communities with the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

“It is my sincere hope that his legacy and the fond memories he leaves behind will be a source of comfort to Lou’s wife and family at this difficult time.”

Geroge L Forbes, (Ret) City Council President

From Cleveland the consolidation of black political power spread to Gary, Indiana, Newark New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan with the election of Black Congressmen and Mayors.

The Stokes brothers along with Charlie Carr, Jimmy Bell, Arnold Pinkney and myself, created the 21st District caucus, a powerful Black political machine, the likes of which has never been seen before in this country nor has it been duplicated since.

There is no question that Carl Stokes was the brains behind the emergence of the black political movement in Cleveland, but Lou was the heart and soul.

Most public officials elected or appointed rely upon their intellect and logic to resolve complex political and community problems, and rightly so.

But Lou Stokes took it a step further. Once he had determined the logical solution to a public problem, it then had to pass his heart test. If it didn’t feel right in his heart, he wouldn’t do it.

Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelley

Congressman Stokes as one of the greatest African American politicians of his time. Kelley said in his statement:

“He was the first black in Ohio to be elected to the United States Congress where he served 15 terms.

But Clevelanders know that Louis Stokes was more than a proud African American, more than just a politician. Nationally and locally he was a transformational leader who helped bring about vital and enduring social changes.

He was highly regarded and warmly respected by all races and nationalities and beloved by the thousands of constituents he represented over the decades as their voice in Washington. His story of growing up in poverty at the steady and hard-working hands of a single mother humbles us all. And his perseverance in achieving a college education and a degree in law is an inspiration to us all.

Rev. E. Theophilus Caviness

Caviness said he said that Stokes was a “genuine good person.”

He’s authentic, what you saw was what you got,” he said.

Ohio Democratic Party Engagement Chair Nina Turner

“We have lost a champion with the passing of Congressman Stokes,” said Turner.

“He was a bright and shining star who made history as Ohio’s first African-American member of Congress. During his tenure he accomplished a great deal for the city of Cleveland and northern Ohio. He was a transformational figure, particularly in black Ohio politics, who lifted his citizens and aspiring young African-American politicians as he climbed. Even in his later years, he continued to work on behalf of the citizens as a member of the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations. Congressman Stokes’ legacy is cemented in American history as a leader who broke many racial and social barriers.”

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges

"Cleveland and Ohio lost a giant in the passing of Congressman Louis Stokes," said ORP Chairman Matt Borges. "Louis Stokes was a class act and a true statesman. As the first black Congressman from our state, he was a pioneer in Ohio politics. He served with great dignity and leaves behind a legacy of bipartisan leadership. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family as they mourn the loss of a great man."

State Rep. Stephanie Howse

Announced she will introduce legislation to designate his birthday, Feb. 23, as "Louis Stokes Day" in honor of him.

“He was the first Black Democrat elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, paving the way for other black Democrats like myself to not only dream about holding office, but to be able to actually have the privilege of representing the people of Cleveland and the state of Ohio,” said Howse.

“It is important that Ohio remembers Congressman Stokes’ legacy and that our state continues to honor and recognize such a profound and incredible individual.”

The Louis Stokes VA Medical Center said in a statement they are saddened by Congressman Stokes’ passing and Cleveland VA Medical namesake.

“His legacy of servant leadership serves as a reminder and inspiration to us all as we work each day to contribute positively to our society as Congressman Stokes did. Our staff and Veterans appreciated the grace, dignity and respect he expressed upon every visit to our medical center. We honor his name and his confidence in us to serve Veterans, and we will miss him dearly.”


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