Former Congressman Louis Stokes has been named as the 2013-2014 Kent State President’s Ambassador, a one-year, part-time appointment beginning this fall. In this position, Stokes is expected 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 university-wide goals.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to serve as the Kent State President’s Ambassador and deem it quite an honor,” Stokes said. “I am excited to work with the school and the students.”
“Mr. Stokes achieved many firsts in the course of his successful career as a distinguished lawyer, former congressman and civil rights activist, and we are honored that he has accepted to partner with Kent State by serving as our new President’s Ambassador,” said Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton. “I have no doubt that he will use his more than three decades of public service experience to help broaden the scope of our diversity initiatives and engage successfully with members of our university community and other Kent State partners in the larger community.”
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. 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 has received several awards and honors, recognizing his national leadership and commitment to public service. He was the first African-American to receive the Congressional Distinguished Service Award in 2003. 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.