Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Louis Stokes, the first African-American member of Congress from the state of Ohio, died late Tuesday at the age of 90. Throughout his career, he was a champion for social and economic justice, civil rights, and equality. His presence and influence will be missed in his hometown of Cleveland, where Diversity Journal has its home, as well as across the nation.

Stokes served the 21st and 11th Districts of Ohio for 30 years, and was elected to Congress in 1968. He served 15 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and received the Congressional Distinguished Service Award in 2003, becoming the first African American to earn this honor.

He was honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession with a 2010 Spirit of Excellence Award for his dedication to expanding opportunity in the legal profession to all minorities.

In 2011, he was inducted into the International Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.

In January, Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed him as one of 18 members to the Community-Police Relations task force that will provide ideas to build relationships between police and their communities.

He celebrated his 90th birthday in February, and was recently diagnosed with lung and brain cancer.

His family released the following statement:

“Our family is mourning the loss of our husband, father, grandfather and close confidant. He died peacefully with Jay, his wife of 55 years, at his side. During his illness, he confronted it as he did life — with bravery and strength. He was always guided by faith, while embracing the prayers and well wishes of family, friends, and constituents.

“We are grateful for the cards, prayers and words of comfort during this difficult time. He loved Cleveland and was honored to have the opportunity to represent its citizens in the United States Congress. He was equally committed to our family, and his love knew no bounds. It is this enduring love that will sustain us in the days and years to come.”

Read the whole story at the New York Times