Ford, Clyde W. 1951–
Clyde W. Ford 1951–
Writer, lecturer, chiropractor, psychotherapist
Clyde W. Ford’s writing career has focused on the many aspects of psychic healing. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he wrote about healing therapy; in the mid-1990s he concentrated on the healing of racial wounds; and in 1999 he wrote The Hero with an African Face, a book about how myths heal psychic wounds. Besides exploring these issues in books and on the lecture circuit, he has conducted seminars and written numerous articles for Massage Magazine, Massage Therapy Journal, and Chiropractic Economics. In 1991 East West magazine recognized Ford’s work as one of the 20 trends reshaping society. Linda Elliot and Mark Mayell in East West described Ford as “an ‘engineer’ who’s building a bridge across the chasm that separates practitioners who focus only on body structures and those who concentrate specifically on the psyche.”
Ford was born in New York City in 1951, the first child of John and Vivian Ford. John Ford was the first black engineer to work for IBM, and Vivian Ford taught school and directed an early childhood education program in California. At age 16 Ford traveled to Africa in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination, attempting to adjust to the tragedy. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, “The young man traveled alone that summer to the Elmina slave portal, on the continent’s west coast, and heard voices in a mystical experience that permanently marked him.” Looking back on the event more than 20 years later, Ford told the Plain Dealer, “The meaning of my own life is based in the meaning of those who have gone before. The ancestors are there, still informing, still influencing us.”
Ford earned a bachelors of arts degree from Wesleyan University in 1971 and went to work as a systems engineer for IBM. In 1977 he returned to school, enrolling at Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon. He completed his training in psychotherapy at the Synthesis Education Foundation of Winchester and the Psychosynthesis Institute of New York, and then set up private practice, first in Richmond, Virginia, and later in Bellingham, Washington. In 1989 Ford wrote his first book, Where Healing Waters Meet, and followed in 1993 with Compassionate Touch.
The riots and racial divisiveness in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict in 1992 left Ford feeling frustrated. After speaking to a number of his colleagues who shared his frustration, he decided to write a book about racial healing. “When we’re dealing with an issue like racism,” Ford told Karen Abbott in the Rocky Mountain News, “So many people feel it’s a daunting issue and that they can’t do anything. A certain paralysis sets in. But anybody and everybody can make a difference.” While Ford remained optimistic, he also admitted that the roots of racial discord run deep. “It’s really not just African American’s place to deal with that,” he told Linda Richards in January Magazine. “We have in our history our own reckoning with that process. But the entire society needs to reckon with that.”
In 1994 Ford completed We Can All Get Along: 50 Steps You Can Take to Help End Racism. “Racism is a social issue,” Ford told Cynthia M. Hodnett in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It is important to look
Born in 1951, in New York, NY. Education: Wesleyan University, BA, 1971; Western States Chiropractic College, PhD, 1980; completed training at the Synthesis Education Foundation of Winchester and the Psychosynthesis institute of New York
Career: Chiropractor, 1980s-; writer and lecturer, 1989-.
Memberships: Cofounder of the Northern Puget Sound region of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; founder, Institute of the Black World.
Address: Office —Institute of African Mythology, P.O. Box 3056, Bellingham, WA 98227-3056.
beneath the surface to find out what the issues are that need to be addressed.” Ford realized that many people were uncomfortable discussing these problems, however, which led to avoidance. “We can’t not talk about this,” he told Abbott. “In families, I hope parents will not treat race and racism like sex: Don’t talk about it, and hope our children end up with the right answers.” Ford also argued that individuals can make a difference. He told Abbott, “If we believe change is possible, then we can take the steps—however small they might be—toward making that change happen.”
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Ford’s focus shifted to the use of mythology in healing. “I went to my friends in the academic community,” he told Richards. “My hypothesis is that, in traditional societies, myths were used to heal long-standing trauma.” With his colleagues’ support, Ford turned to African culture, a geographical area long ignored and slighted in mythological studies. “The problem with world mythology is that Africa has so often been excluded,” he told Richards in January Magazine. Ford sought out African authors and drew on his own travels in West Africa in order to discover ancient myths and understand how they might be beneficial to the healing process in contemporary societies.
In 1999 Ford compiled his research on mythology in a fourth book, The Hero with an African Face. He discovered ancient stories carved on rock walls, dating back 30,000 years. Ford wrote in The Hero with an African Face, “Properly read, myths bring us into accord with the eternal mysteries of being, help us manage the inevitable passages of our lives, and give us templates for our relationship with the societies in which we live.” Positive legends, Ford believed, could aid the healing process by transforming stories of personal trauma into stories of empowerment. “This is a book that belongs in the home of everyone who wants to know more about the breadth of contributions African-Americans have made to American culture,” noted Ellen Sweets in the Dallas Morning News.
Besides writing books and lecturing, Ford was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the Northern Puget Sound region. His efforts at Wesleyan University helped to establish the Institute of the Black World, located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta, Georgia. In all of his work, Ford has promoted the psychic health of the individual and the society at large. Ford told Richards, “We live in a global village. … We have a view of the earth from the moon. … That view shows us just one little blue marble dangling in a dark space. … We have not in any way realized the potential mythic import of that vision from space. But we better, or we’re not going to survive on terra firma. … We need to be about the one human race.”
Where Healing Waters Meet: Touching Mind and Emotion Through the Body, Station Hill, 1989.
Compassionate Touch: The Body’s Role in Healing and Recovery, Simon & Schuster, 1993.
We Can All Get Along: 50 Steps You Can Take to Help End Racism, Dell, 1994.
The Hero with an African Face: Mythic Wisdom of Traditional Africa, Bantam, 2000.
Dallas Morning News, February 21, 1999, p. 8J.
East West, May 1991, p. 64.
Miami Herald, December 20, 2002.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 9, 1997.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), February 27, 2000, p. 1F.
Rocky Mountain News, January 17, 1994, p. 3D.
“Clyde W. Ford,” January Magazine, www.januarymagazine.com/profiles/ford.html (May 3, 2003).
“Clyde W. Ford,” Biography Resource Center, www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC.
—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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