Not all of Ms. Ford’s work was devoted to books emphasizing diversity. As head of Cartwheel she was responsible for mass-market hits like the Clifford the Big Red Dog books and the “I Spy” series, and her own writing included books for the very young that used animal characters — “No More Pacifier for Piggy!” (2008), for instance, and “No More Blanket for Lambkin!” (2009). But with Color-Bridge Books, she was particularly interested in books with diverse characters that were written and illustrated by people of color.
One series she created, called “Just for You!,” featured both established authors like Derrick Barnes and relative newcomers (as well as several titles she wrote herself).
“It was like a dream come true,” she told Black Issues Book Review in 2004, “the opportunity to work with authors and artists of color on a series of high-quality, original paperbacks featuring everyday stories about everyday children who happen to be Black.”
In an email, Wade Hudson of Just Us Books called Ms. Ford “an unsung hero in the push to bring more people of color into children’s book publishing.”
Bernette Goldsen was born on June 30, 1950, in Brooklyn. Her father, Morton, was a factory worker and later a foreman, and her mother, Martha (Short) Goldsen, was a singer, actress, music teacher and seamstress.
She grew up in Uniondale, on Long Island. In “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices,” a collection of anecdotes and poems by writers of color put out in 2018 by the Hudsons’ company, Ms. Ford wrote of a moment in her childhood that made a particular impression: In 1963 her parents opened their home to a girl from the South, giving her several weeks of respite from the civil rights violence that was dominating that part of the country at the time.
“She inspired us with her bravery and her stories and her spirit,” Ms. Ford wrote, “and her determination to fight until she won justice for the Black people in her town and all over the South.”