"...a commitment to initiate and support programs that foster youth literacy..."
"...a forum for African American Writers to reach a larger audience..."
On August 28, 1966, the late Claudette Franklin Ford met with a group of 22 female friends to present the idea of organizing a book club. Its purpose would be to “read and review books, plays, and other literary forms.” Fifteen of these women (Alice Barnett, Barbara Brown, LaVon Bundy, Bernadette Derr, Carole Jordan Hrris, Brin Hawkins, Charlotte Williams Henderson, Norlishia Jackson, Tyrese Lloyd, Wanda Oates, Etheline Matthews, Lorita Powell, Gloria Runyan, Carol Smith Watts, and Maggalean Weston) embraced the vision, and the Oracle Set Book Club was born. The first book reviewed by the group was The Man, a fictionalized account of the First African American to serve as President of the United States, written by Irving Wallace. Until her death in 1996, Claudette played a vital role in ensuring the longevity of the Club. One original member, Bernadette Derr, is currently an active member of the Club.
On February 25, 1967, the Oracle Set Book Club held the first of what would become its Annual Book and Author Luncheon. Ted Shine, Fine Arts instructor at Howard University was the guest author for the first luncheon. Mr. Shine discussed his play, "Sho is Hot in the Cotton Patch." Club members view the event as a forum for African American writers to reach a larger audience; and an opportunity to share with a wider group of friends the stimulating exhange of ideas that occurred during its monthly meetings; and a vehicle to raise funds to support literary projects. Over the years, luncheon speakers have been emerging writers as well as established authors.
From its inception, the Oracle Set Book Club made a commitment to initiate and support programs that foster youth literacy. Our community outreach activities have included hotsing youth groups at the annual luncheon, demonstrating book club discussions at a local high school, and making annual donations to D.C. Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF) for 17 years. The creation of the Claudette Franklin Ford Scholarship Essay Competition in 1997 marked a noteworthy expansion of our outreach activities. The enthusiastic response to this scholarship project prompted the establishment of the non-profit, tax-exempt Oracle Set Foundation (OSF). Book Club members continue to play a key role in implementing OSF projects.
To the best of our knowledge, the Oracle Set Book Club is the only African American women's book club in the Washington, D.C. Area to be in continuous operation for nearly 50 years. Members represent a variety of professions, personal interests, hobbies, and ages. This diversity fosters a range of opinions and encourages spirited discussions. While most of the names on our roster have changed over the years, the purpose and character of the club remain unchanged.
"...Annual Book & Author Luncheon...an opportunity to share... the stimulating exchange of ideas that occurred during monthly meetings..."
Claudette Franklin Ford Scholarship Winners