Did You Know: U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes

In honor of Black History Month, throughout February, we will highlight black individuals and organizations that have made an impact on the Case Western Reserve University community and society as a whole.

Louis Stokes fought tirelessly to help people in need in his hometown of Cleveland and on a national level. He was Ohio’s first black congressman and a successful lawyer who argued the landmark stop-and-frisk case Terry v. Ohio before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Louis Stokes
Alumnus, faculty member and U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes

He was also an alumnus and faculty member of Case Western Reserve for whom a number of buildings on campus and in the surrounding community have been named. The Louis Stokes Fellowship in Community and Social Development, established in his honor,  provides a full-tuition scholarship to a student at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences who has demonstrated leadership in community development.

Born in Cleveland in 1925, Stokes attended Western Reserve University’s Cleveland College at night from 1946-48. He earned a law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1953. After serving for 30 years in Congress, Stokes returned to Cleveland and became a distinguished visiting professor. He created and hosted the Louis Stokes Leadership Symposium on Social Issues and Community, a forum that attracted national leaders to campus to give their perspectives on being agents of change. 

In 1994, Case Western Reserve University renamed its health sciences center at the Biomedical Research Building the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Center.  Other buildings that bear his name are the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, The Louis Stokes Annex of the Cleveland Public Library, the Louis Stokes Laboratories at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., and the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library at Howard University.

Stokes was awarded 26 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities, and in 2003, Congress honored him with The Congressional Distinguished Service Award.

Learn more about the life and work of Louis Stokes on his memorial page.