President and Provost’s
Diversity Lecture Series:
The Honorable Louis Stokes

President Maichael Drake with Louis Stokes

On March 5, 2015, the Honorable Louis Stokes (pictured above with Michael V. Drake, MD, President of The Ohio State University) spoke at the President and Provost’s Diversity Lecture Series in the intimate setting of the Faculty Club Lounge. Mr. Stokes was joined by nearly 100 attendees, including President Michael V. Drake, Vice Provost Joseph Steinmetz, community partners from Huntington Bank, Honda and more.  Also in the audience was Dr. A. James Hicks, the National Science Foundation’s Program Director for the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), who was instrumental in The Ohio State University and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion being awarded an LSAMP grant in 2013.

Guided by moderator T.K. Daniel, the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor in Educational Administration, Stokes, who recently turned 90 years old, spoke for over an hour, telling of his life experiences as a child, a World War II soldier, a civil rights lawyer, a U.S. Congressman, and a college professor. A common theme throughout his talk was the value of schooling: his mother, who wanted a high school education for her sons, told him, “Get something in your head so you don’t have to work with your hands.” The importance of an education was something Louis Stokes never forgot, stating, “You can do whatever you want to do today. All you need is the education.”

Stokes was elected to the United State Congress in 1968, and while serving on the House Appropriations Committee, Stokes worked hard to rectify the lack of minorities in STEM fields. In 1991, when a program to increase the number of underrepresented STEM degrees awarded was mandated by Congress, it was aptly named the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

“The Honorable Louis Stokes has had a strong and continued interest in civil rights, equality, and social and economic justice, and The Ohio LSAMP Alliance is making a difference for minority STEM majors at Ohio State by giving them the tools they need to be successful,” said Dr. Barbara Fink, The Ohio LSAMP Alliance Director.

Touching upon his connection with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Mr. Stokes recalled the late Dr. Frank Hale, Jr. as one of the most amazing individuals he had ever known and that he was so proud that there is now a center named after him. Mr. Stokes was also very proud that ODI has become a hub for student opportunities such as LSAMP and TRIO, programs that he and many others worked hard to make possible.

Valerie Lee and Louis Stokes

With a career spanning many decades and many arenas, Louis Stokes truly is, as Vice Provost Valerie Lee called him, an undisputed champion for social justice.

The Ohio State President’s and Provost Diversity Lecture featuring Congressman Louis Stokes can be seen in its entirety by clicking here.