By Paul Holston
Louis Stokes, a prominent, 15-term congressman, a civil rights trailblazer and the man who helped create both the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library and Law Library at Howard University, died on Aug. 18. at the age of 90. His funeral will take place tomorrow, Aug. 25, at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland.
“He was one that fought for us [Black people],” said Cynthia Studevent-Rivers, executive assistant to the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library and a longtime friend of Stokes. “I felt that if he didn’t think much about Howard, he would not have done what he did to make this library happen.”
Stokes accomplished numerous achievements during his lifetime, to include being chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations that assessed the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., honorably serving in the United States Army, becoming a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and was responsible for securing $20 million in federal funding to build Howard University’s Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library and the Law Library.
During the 30 years he served in Congress, Stokes was a strong advocate for better quality of the health of African-Americans.
“He spoke the truth, he was a fair individual and he showed much humility. He was a champion for Black health, which is crucial on this campus with it being a historical black university,” said Studevent-Rivers.
As the nation mourns his passing, the foundations bearing Stokes’ name will continue to uphold his legacy. For the Howard community, Studevent-Rivers expressed that as long as the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library stands, there is no need to mourn.
“He has lived a long, long, wonderful life and you can only celebrate him. Just because his physical is not here, his spirit will live in this building,” she said.
“Howard University lost an ardent supporter with the passing of Congressman Louis Stokes. He was a staunch advocate for equal opportunity, education, and justice and a great friend and champion for Howard,” said Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick in a press release.
The cause of his death was related to his recent announcement last month of being diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. He died peacefully with his wife, Jay, at his side during his transition.
“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,” said President Barack Obama in a recent statement.
[Story was Published in Howard University’s “The Hilltop” Student Newspaper 24Aug2015]