Ford’s first Black woman car designer Emeline King has highlighted her trailblazing journey in a book titled “What Do You Mean a Black Girl Can’t Design Cars? Emeline King, She Did It!” The daughter of a fiberglass-and-clay modeler for Ford, King was said to have fallen in love with the 1968 Ford Mustang as a child.
King’s obsession with the Ford Mustang followed an auto show she attended with her father when she was barely nine. She would then make a vow to be a designer – an undertaking that led her to study transportation design at the Art Center College of Design in California. Upon graduation, she joined the Ford Motor Company in 1983.
“I loved to play with toy cars when I was a child. It was like an insult to give me a doll,” The Chicago Tribune quoted King as saying in a January 30, 1994 publication. The 1994 Ford Mustang, with its striking two-tone, twin-arched dashboard-console and the doors that grow gracefully out of it like boughs from a tree, is largely the product of King’s designing eye, the outlet reported. She was 35 then.
King, who spent nearly 25 years with the car making company after being hired in 1983, also contributed to the design of the 1990 Ford Probe and 2000 Ford Thunderbird, among other vehicles. Also, she patented a 15-inch wheel cover of the 1989 Thunderbird, a biography of her said.
At the time King etched her name in Ford’s history as its first African-American female designer, there were few women designers worldwide. Research now shows Black women make up 6.2 percent of the vehicle manufacturing workforce.
King, a Detroit resident, and Wayne State University graduate, retired from Ford in 2008. She started working as a freelance artist and author. Now 64, King, who has made her mark in the auto industry, said she is proud to have written a book that she hopes will inspire young girls and boys to never give up.
She would also like to open a STEM Academy for girls. “A lot of times I tell a lot of young ladies – and little girls – do not let anyone discourage you or tell you what you can’t become,” Emeline said, according to FOX 2 Detroit. “If Emeline King can do it – so can you.”
Her inspiring book is available at emelineking.com as well as Amazon, Target and Barnes and Noble.