On August 16, 2019, author Clyde W. Ford was named a "Literary Lion," by the Seattle-area King County Library System (KCLS) for 2019/2020. Each year KCLS chooses Northwest authors of merit, as "Literary Lions." This year, twenty authors were selected. Ford was named for Think Black, a memoir about his father, John Stanley Ford, the first Black software engineer in America, to be published this September by Amistad Press, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.
In 1947, Ford's father was hired by the legendary Thomas J. Watson as IBM's first black software engineer. Despite the racism he faced, the elder Ford comported himself with dignity and professionalism, not knowing his hiring may have been meant to distract from IBM's dubious involvement in eugenics, the Holocaust, and apartheid. Passed over for promotions he deserved, Ford ultimately began blaming his fate on a notion that darker-skinned people like him were less intelligent and less capable—beliefs that painfully divided him and his son, Clyde, who followed him to IBM two decades later.
From his first day of work—with a wide-lapelled suit, red turtleneck, and huge Afro—Clyde made clear he was different. Only IBM hadn't changed. As he, too, experienced the same racism, Clyde began to better understand the subtle yet daring ways his father had fought back.
Clyde Ford was previously named a KCLS "Literary Lion," in 2006, 2007, and 2008. A dinner honoring this year's "Literary Lions" will be held March 7, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Washington. The event will be emceed by noted librarian, Nancy Pearl, with a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Colson Whitehead. Proceeds support KCLS programs.