The following historical summary was adapted from a speech given by the Oracle Book Club President, C. Anita Byrd, at the Club's 2016 Annual Book and Author Luncheon in recognition of the Club's Golden Anniversary:
The Oracle Set Book Club was established in 1966 by our Founder Claudette Franklin Ford. She invited a group of 15 women who were classmates, friends, and friends of friends to form a Book Club. Of the founding original group there is one member, Bernadette Derr, who is still active n the Club. Another founding member, Maagalean Weston, while not active in the Book Club serves on the Board of the Oracle Set Foundation.
In 1966 What was going on?
It was a time of Change
It was a time of Opportunity and
It was a time of Hope
For the BookClub, it was a time of New Beginnings
We were a group of young, of intelligent, forward looking and inquisitive women. We had finishd or were in the process of finishing college. Most had attended Howard University, and were members of Delta Sigma Theta, and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities. We were also embarking upon careers that had not been available to our parents or grandparents. We had entered into a variety of upwardly mobile professions in corporate America and Federal and local government.
We were avid readers and wanted to establish a group in which we could discuss and critique books read and plays seen. We were also interested in youth literacy and decided to support and initiate projects that promoted and encouraged literacy among local school-aged children.
In the fall of 1966 the first book club meeting was held, and the first book read by the group was “The Man” by Irving Wallace.” It was a fictional book about the first Black President, but today 50 years later it became a reality.
In February 1967 we held our first Book Club Luncheon. The purpose of the luncheon was to give African American writers a forum to reach a large audience. This effort was unique and groundbreaking at the time. Also, we wanted to share with a wide group of friends the stimulating exchange of ideas that occurred at the meetings and, at the same time, raise funds for the Club's literary projects. Ted Shine, an Instructor at Howard University, was invited to be our speaker, and he discussed his play “Sho is Hot in the Cotton Patch.” The Book Club Luncheon is an annual event,and we have honored a guest authoe each year.
Over the years we have read and discussed over 400 books and invited 23 quest speakers to our monthly meetings. The guest speakers included notable such as: Dr. Elizabeth Clark Lewis, Robert Parker, Dr. Marian Secundy, Zane, Dr. Francis Welsing, Dr. Jenice View and the actress Ruby Dee. In 2004 we hosted Walter Mosley in a reception at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives. He read from his novel, Little Scarlett.
And as a part of our 50 year celebration, We hosted a reception on October 2015 for Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Moorland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University.
We give a number of scholarships and support programs that encourag youth literacy. Also we have established neighborhood literacy project grants.
Today we are 17 members strong. We represent a variety of professions, although most of our members are retired. We come from different backgrounds, and different states, with a broad range of ages, starting from 40 something and upwards.
In spite of outward differences, a feeling of family resides within the Group, a family of sisters who support and love one another so much that another name affectiionately used is "The Oracle Set Sisters."