In 1991, the United States Congress authorized and established the Alliances for Minority Participation, an initiative designed to substantially increase the quality and quantity of students from historically underrepresented groups who successfully complete baccalaureate degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and continue on to earn advanced degrees in STEM disciplines. Eight years later, the initiative was renamed the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation in honor of Louis Stokes, the first African American elected to congress in the State of Ohio.
The life of Louis Stokes was one of incredible inspiration. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925 and raised by his widowed mother and grandmother in the local housing projects. Despite economic hardships, he excelled in his studies in the Cleveland Public School system and graduated from high school in 1943. After serving in the United States Army, he completed his bachelor’s degree at the Cleveland College of Western Reserve University and then received his law degree from the Cleveland Marshal College of Law School in 1953. Mr. Stokes’ law practice focused on upholding civil rights, often representing underprivileged clients and activists pro bono. In 1968, he was elected to Congress as a Democrat and served 15 consecutive terms, retiring from his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. Throughout his career as a congressman, Mr. Stokes was a champion of civil rights, social and economic justice, and equality for all. Louis Stokes passed away in 2015, leaving a great legacy and improving the lives of countless individuals.