We mourn the loss of Congressman Louis Stokes, one of the most brilliant and greatest statesmen in the history of this country. Even during his retirement, Congressman Stokes demonstrated his commitment to the continued improvement and enhancement of the minds of African Americans and of people of African descent throughout the Diaspora when he provided a Keynote Address at the 37th Annual International Convention of the Association of Black Psychologist held in Cleveland, Ohio in 2005. As the result of his participation in a panel discussion after his keynote address, Congressman Stokes declared that the kind of insight, knowledge, wisdom and understanding the panelists provided needed to be a part of all Congressional Black Caucus hearings and deliberations. He instructed Past President Linda James Myers to make contact with his administrative successors at the CBC, and although his vision has yet to be fully realized, it will go down in history that this courageous political leader remained ardent and steadfast to his commitment to serving and uplifting people of African ancestry to the best of his ability to the very end.
Congressman Stokes served 15 terms in the United States House of Representatives representing the east side of Cleveland. He was the first black congressman elected in the state of Ohio and
in 1968 Attorney Louis Stokes became the first African American Congressman elected from a major city in the United States of America. A part of his mission involved improvement of the standard of living for the people in his Congressional District and for the poor or disadvantaged Americans throughout the country, he pushed a legislative agenda that targeted the needs of his majority black district. Congressman Stokes earned a reputation as a congenial but determined activist for minority issues, advocating for more funding for education, affirmative action programs to employ more blacks, housing and urban development projects, and initiatives to improve access to health care for working class Americans.
A strong supporter of the formation of the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States Congress, he lead the development of the Health Brain Trust for the Congressional Black Caucus. He requested and received input from a newly developed professional organization known as the Association of Black Psychologists which was founded in 1968. Leaders of the Association of Black Psychologists and other Black health and mental health professional organizations worked with Congressman Louis Stokes in the carrying out of the mission of the Health Brain Trust. Information related to educating diverse populations, research on health needs of diverse populations and providing health services to diverse populations became a major endeavor of the Brain Trust.
A courageous, smart, committed political leader with great acumen for addressing the needs of persons acknowledging African ancestry, Congressman Louis Stokes will long be remembered for all that he has done to serve and uphold his people. In the tradition of our African cultural heritage we celebrate the eternal ancestral spirit of Congressman Louis Stokes as he lives within us. We also celebrate the triumphs in the life of Congressman Louis Stokes as he lived with us.
Willie S. Williams, Ph.D., Past President of The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi)
Linda James Myers, Ph.D., Past President of ABPsi and Director of the AAAS Community Extension Center