Mignon Lorraine Inniss was born on Nov. 19, 1905 in Barbados. In the early twenties, she emigrated to New York City where she studied Business Administration at the Braithwaite School of Business. In 1931, after a visit of Ethiopian dignitaries for skilled African-Americans to help in Ethiopia’s development, she emigrated to Ethiopia with the first group of repatriates led by Arnold J. Ford, an internationally known scholar and political advocate for the liberation of oppressed peoples throughout the world. Soon thereafter she married Ford and had two children. In 1935, Professor Ford died and was promised by his wife that she would never abandon Ethiopia. She promised to cast her destiny in Ethiopia to either survive or perish with their Ethiopian brothers and sisters.
After Ethiopia regained her independence in 1941, Mrs. Ford and her godmother Albertha Thomas founded the first coeducational boarding school in the country, the Beit Aurieal School. The school was later renamed the Princess Zenebe Worq School by Imperial order.
She designed and successfully implemented a well-rounded curriculum with a strong emphasis on the development of the student’s African identities and Ethiopia’s proper place in African and world history. Ford also co-founded and served on the Board of Directiors of several Ethiopian organizations. She was the recipient of numerous awards including the Edward Wilmot Blyden award for Education Excellence in African Development from the African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA.)She was later elected as an Elder to the AHSA Board of Directors. She also received an award from the Society of Ethiopian Established in Diaspora (SEED) for Excellence in African Education.
Ford was a mother, teacher, sister and friend. She is addressed as Teacher Tilliqua (Great Teacher) within the Ethiopian community.
Mrs.Ford died on Jan. 15, 1995 at the Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. In accordance with her will, she was buried in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The inscription on her tomb reads:
To thee she was called by duty
With thee she toiled for liberty
With thine she cast her destiny
In thee she rests with dignity.
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