Charles A. Cofield

Charles A. Cofield

Family, friends and well-wishers packed the room June 8th at the Juanita Millender McDonald Community Center in Carson, CA for the book signing of “An Abundance of Miracles” – The Autobiography of Charles A. Cofield as told to author Foraker ‘Smitty’ Smith.

Hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club, its president Geneva Phillips-Beaver in her opening remarks announced that Cofield unfortunately was unable to attend, but Smith was on hand to greet guests and sign the books. Bernard Tolliver presented a proclamation from State Senator Rod Wright’s office to both Cofield – a world-class architecture by trade who happens to be quadriplegic – and the highly-accomplished author Smith.

Cofield’s wife attorney Marilee Jones-Cofield accepted the award on his behalf. The Mayor of Carson, Jim Dear, was among the many supporters. Complimentary copies of the book are being donated to Carson’s main library. “An Abundance of Miracles” can also be purchased online. Published May 9, 2013, following is a description of the book, information on Cofield and the author, Foraker Smith:

[It is the night of April 4, 1968 [the date Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated]. Howard University student, Charles Cofield and his friends, investigate a fire just off campus. Charles gets hit by a car but is seemingly unhurt. The night ends and Charles goes to his dormitory. He wakes up, ten days later, to find himself in a hospital and unable to move his arms and legs.

Somehow he had broken his neck in a fall from his dormitory bunk. Just like that, Charles had become a quadriplegic. God poured His grace, mercy and an abundance of miracles on Charles during the next 15 years. He achieved a series of ‘firsts’ in several fields. He was the first quadriplegic graduate at MIT’s School of Architecture (3 degrees in 3 years); first quadriplegic to attend UCLA’s PhD Urban Planning program; first quadriplegic American Institute of Architects member in California; first quadriplegic administrator at Good Shepherd Center for Independent Living;  and first quadriplegic Director of Housing Development, City of Los Angeles Housing Authority. Stanford’s Who’s Who honored him in 2012, and the MLK Jr. Democratic Club of Carson dubbed him Courageous Man of the Year. Charles retired in 2003 and lives with his wife in Carson, California.

Author Foraker Smith signs books

Author Foraker Smith signs books

The author, Foraker Smith was born in Monroe, Louisiana and raised in South Central Los Angeles. He was involved in education, civil rights, state politics and public consulting. Foraker graduated from L.A. Harbor Community College and went on to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from California State University Los Angeles.

A PhD in Urban and Regional Planning and receipt of the coveted Dean’s Award for Excellence followed at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was the university’s first African-American graduate and recipient of its coveted Dean’s Award for Excellence.

Foraker was also California State Capitol’s first African-American to hold the position of Chief Administrative Analyst in the Senate Democratic Caucus. Dr. Smith spent 38 years in university teaching at Pepperdine, USC, UC Riverside and California State University Dominguez Hills. He retired from the latter university in 2010 to enjoy his wife and children in Cypress, CA.]

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles- based freelance writer. Author of ‘Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand.’ Articles also appear in the Long Beach Times, the L.A. Sentinel and other publications. Contact: lbuford8101@hotmail.com  (213) 220-8101