© 2022 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Hundreds Gather To Remember Ohio's First Black Congressman

Brian Bull, WCPN
Stokes served 15 terms in Washinton and was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Several hundred relatives, friends, officials, and fraternity members gathered in Cleveland’s City Hall Monday night to celebrate the life of Louis Stokes.  The 15-term congressman died last week of cancer. 

But amourners said his contributions made Stokes immortal.

First, his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, sang a tribute to the late World War II veteran, attorney, and U.S. Representative.

Then Mayor Frank Jackson spoke of how Stokes’ defense of the oppressed, poor, and weak, made Jackson a better mayor by inspiring a “governance of service.” 

“He served his country, he served his city, he served the people," said Jackson. "And he served us as individuals. And I want you to know that he’ll be missed by this country, he’ll be missed by this city, and the people, and I will be counted as one of the ones who sincerely miss him to the family, thank you.” 

One of Stokes’ closest friends, former Representative William Clay of Missouri, said in Stokes' 30 years on Capitol Hill, he pushed Congress to improve education, health care, and urban conditions for poor Americans.

“Today we’re saying goodbye…to a person of epic dimension," said Clay. "Whose love for life and mankind was conspicuous and contagious.  It pierced the conscience of America.”

Two of Stokes’ grandchildren, sang the jazz song I'll Be Seeing You, dedicated to his memory. 

Later this morning, a funeral service will be held at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.  Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attend.