Carl Stokes was a remarkable leader

Carl Stokes
Tue, 1927-06-21

Carl Stokes was born on this date in 1927. He was an African American lawyer and politician.

Born in Cleveland, Carl Burton Stokes was only two years old when his father, a laundry worker, died. His widowed mother supported him and his older brother Louis by working as a domestic, although at one time the family was on welfare. He helped support his family by working as a newspaper carrier and in neighborhood stores. He dropped out of high school and went to work in a foundry. At 18, he entered the Army; he received an honorable discharge as corporal and returned to school. Stokes got his high school diploma in 1947.

After graduating, he supported himself by working as a dining car waiter. He earned a B.S. degree in law at the University of Minnesota in 1954. Two years later, he received his L.L.B. degree from night law school in 1956 as a graduate of the Cleveland Marshall School of Law. In 1962, he became the first African-American to be elected to the Ohio Legislature as a Democrat until 1967. During that time, (1965) he narrowly lost a race for mayor of Cleveland.

In 1967, he ran again and became the first African American to be elected mayor of a major American city. He was reelected in 1969, but after his second term he left politics to become a news broadcaster in New York City. He returned to Cleveland in 1980 as general counsel to the United Auto Workers. Three years later, Stokes was elected municipal court judge, serving two terms as head of the court. He then served (1994–95) as ambassador to the Seychelles. Carl Stokes died in 1996.

Reference Library of Black America Volumes 1 through 5
Edited by Mpho Mabunda
Copyright 1998, Gale Research, Detroit, MI

To Become a Legislator

Person / name: 

Stokes, Carl Burton