Charles Stokes proudly will tell anyone that he is a fifth generation North Carolinian with a gigantic smile on his face. He was born in Dunn, NC the son of Sidney Louis and Josephine Stokes. He is a graduate from Johnston Central High School (Class of 1962). He was greatly encouraged through out his life by his parents and famed basketball player and coach, Reginald Ennis and Coach Leroy Walker.
1962 was also the year that many things changed for Charles after graduation. He had extraordinary neurosurgery (in its day) at Duke Hospital to alleviate the involuntary movements of his arms. Charles was seeking in the operation abilities that most men take for granted: shaving, writing letters and preparing meals with out causing harm to ourselves. However, this was not to be, the operation afforded him none of the proficiencies mentioned but an unintended consequence, which contributes to this day to speech impairment.
What makes Charles magically human is what he said to me next and I have to quote him directly: “At this point, my condition forced me to make some decisions about my faith. I began to pray and to read the Bible unceasingly. God revealed the process of redemption–justification, sanctification, and glorification–with these scriptural verses: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Salvation). “Galatians 2:20 I thanks God for the gift of justification: “who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Then I began sanctification: “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.” Romans 6:19, “For ye are brought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods.” I Cr 6:20
Charles Stokes is one of my favorite people in the world. He is a genius who happens to have cerebral palsy. Charles Stokes is a graduate of North Carolina Central University (Class of 1968). In the summer of 1968, Charles was accepted into a program at Harvard Divinity School for African American ministers involving the Psychology of Religion in 1968. He received a certificate for Forecasting Techniques Using SAS/ETS software, November 1994.
Mr. Stokes began his career with the State of North Carolina in the mail room after passing the civil service examination for a Statistician. After his first year with the Department of Correction, he was promoted to the Office of Research and Planning where he worked for twenty-nine years retiring as a time series Analyst.
Charles is retired today but has not looked back to sit down He continues to serve the public through community-based activities. I often wonder when I am with Charles how he developed his self esteem and drive as an individual who most would consider has speech and mobility challenges. In the same thought I think he should be in front of so many of us that think that we are challenged in life and don’t have his hurdles.
Aside from his firm foundation in Christianity Charles Stokes firmly believes as he says, “that math is the language of science”. For Charles mathematics adds up daily life’s operations and can demonstrate anything under the sun. Charles explained to me that one could use mathematics to solve almost any problem. He even claimed that kids could use mathematics to determine the difference between how they play basketball and how great players do it. I need Charles to figure out the next Lotto numbers.
Seriously, though, one of Charles’ heroes is none other than the famed mathematician Stephen Hawkins. Charles admires Hawkins because he says, “Hawkins has evolved so far using mathematics that he has reached the heavens with his mind”. Well Charles I can top that…because Charles Stokes from the State government to the people of Raleigh and Smithfield, North Carolina has evolved so far in mathematics and services for the benefit of humanity — that he has forever reached the evolved levels of our hearts –and that my friend takes “genius”.
As October 29th 2011, Charles has turned his attention to developing an Economic Empowerment Movement – initiated by African-Americans — in central North Carolina. It is still in the planning stages. Stay tuned!