Birthday: June 21, 1927 Black Celebrities Born on June 21
Died At Age: 68
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Carl Burton Stokes
Born in: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A
Famous as: Former Mayor of Cleveland
political ideology: Democrat
Spouse/Ex-: Raija Kostadinov, Shirley Edwards
father: Charles Stokes
mother: Louise (Stone) Stokes
children: Carl Stokes Jr., Cordell Stokes, Cordi Stokes, Cynthia Stokes, Sasha Kostadinov (stepson)
Died on: April 3, 1996
place of death: Cleveland, Ohio
U.S. State: Ohio, African-American From Ohio
Cause of Death: Cancer
Carl Stokes was an American politician and 51st mayor of Cleveland. His selection as the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio signifies a new era in the political arena of America. Hailing from a poor economical background, Carl was an alumnus of prestigious University of Minnesota Law School. He started his career by working as the assistant city prosecutor of Ohio bar. His political career began when he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. As a mayor of Cleveland, he played a crucial role in creating employment opportunities for African-Americans and women. He skilfully dealt with the difficult situation during the movement of white residents in Cleveland. In his autobiography “Promises of Power”, he admitted that the incident of Glenville Shootout that resulted in the death of six black civilians ruined his effort to build a sense of unity in solving racial discrimination in Cleveland. As part of the television station WNBC, he was the first black anchorman of the New York City. As the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and civic awards, this powerful politician represented America during several goodwill trips around the world. The National League of Cities voted him its first black president -elect in 1970.
Childhood & Early Life
Born as Carl Burton Stokes in a black family of Cleveland, Carl was the second son of Charles, a laundryman and Louise Stokes, a cleaning woman. He lost his father when he was very young.
His mother raised Carl and his brother Louis in a public housing project for the poor. It was his mother who stressed about the value of education during his early childhood. Though he was a good student but left the high school in 1944 and worked for Thompson Products for a brief period.
Later, he joined the U. S. Army and served in occupied Germany during the World War II. After his discharge from the Army in 1946, he attended West Virginia College.
Next, he studied psychology at the Cleveland College of Western Reserve University. For three years, he worked as an agent for Ohio’s State Department of Liquor Control.
In 1954, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in law from the University of Minnesota Law School. Later, he attended the Cleveland-Marshall Law School from where he earned his JD degree in 1956. At that time, he also worked as a probation officer in Cleveland.
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In 1957, he joined the Ohio bar where he served as assistant city prosecutor. During this time, he was actively involved in various civil rights activities. At the same time, he was also an active member of the Democratic Party.
After leaving the post of assistant city prosecutor in 1962, he set up Stokes, Stokes - a law firm together with his brother Louis Stokes. In the same year, he was elected as the first black Democrat to the Ohio House of Representatives and won office in Cuyahoga County.
He worked for the committees of judiciary, industry and labour and public welfare. After serving here for three terms, he lost the Cleveland mayoral election in 1965. He won this election in 1967 by defeating Seth Taft who was the grandson of President William H. Taft.
At that time, racial discrimination in Cleveland was an issue of serious concern in America. During his tenure as mayor, he took initiatives to improve the economic condition of Cleveland. As part of his job, he took steps to increase the income tax of this city.
His plans such as establishing schools, housing projects, zoo and other city projects for the overall improvement of Cleveland won voter approval. It was Carl who worked for opening City Hall jobs for black people.
He took several steps to improve the condition of the poor and disadvantaged section of the society. He also worked hard for the reorganization of the police department of Cleveland.
‘Cleveland: Now!’, announced on May 1, 1968, was an initiative by him to rehabilitate the neighbourhood areas in Cleveland. To make the plan successful, he convinced the local businessmen of Cleveland to cooperate in a fundraising programme that aimed to preserve the inner peace of the city.
But his effort became futile when it came to light that the Glenville Shootout of 1968 was funded by ‘Cleveland: Now!’ This incident ruined his reputation and donations for his plan dried up.
He left the mayor’s post in 1971. After that, he shifted to New York City and the next year, he served the television station WNBC as an anchorman. After returning to Cleveland in 1980, he practised as a labour lawyer. He served as general counsel for the United Auto Workers. From 1983 to 1994, he served as a municipal judge in Cleveland.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed him as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Seychelles.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1958, he tied the nuptial knot with Shirley Edwards whom he divorced in 1973. They had three children - Carl Jr., Cordi and Cordell.
He married Raija Kostadinov, a former Finnish model in 1981. With Raija, he had a daughter, Cynthia and a stepson, Sasha Kostadinov. They got divorced in 1993. He married for the third time in 1996.
While working as the Ambassador to the Seychelles, he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He breathed his last in Cleveland.
This influential American politician used to deliver newspapers and work in local stores to support his family while he was very young.