Founders Celebrate 28 Years of Book Club Reading for Inspiration

Shown at the anniversary celebration are founders Greg Miller, Felice Franklin, author Mbinguni and founder Doug Pollard.
Shown at the anniversary celebration are founders Greg Miller, Felice Franklin, author Mbinguni and founder Doug Pollard.

When three or more are gathered great things happen. That adage rang true in September 1993, Wilene Dozier and Felice Franklin attended a book signing of Tina McElroy Ansa’s novel Ugly Ways at The Book Mark in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The three realized that there were a significant number of African Americans at the signing and felt there should be an African American book club in Jacksonville that could host signings and other events. Just 30 days later, an organizational meeting was held and “The Reading Group”, was formed. The first book discussion was held the following month starring Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillian.

Twenty-eight years later, the People Reading for Inspiration, Discussion and Enjoyment (P.R.I.D.E.) Book Club remains northeast Florida’s longest running literary think tank for African-Americans having discussed over 330 books of interest.
Though targeted to people of color, PRIDE is open to all.

“We believe that because of our diversity we are able to have open, honest and meaningful discussions about the fiction and nonfiction books that are selected for discussion,” said Franklin.
Surviving the Odds

2020 was rough for everyone, and PRIDE was not untouched. The book club missed their first meeting in April 2020 due to the pandemic. However operations resumed in May and members were asked to share their favorite reads from the pandemic. In July 2020, PRIDE resumed their monthly meeting via zoom. They finally resumed in-person meetings last August. Members were socially distant and everyone wore a mask. A zoom option was also available.

Throughout the years, the membership has seen PRIDE evolve. With more technology available, they have seen more books being written for the younger generation that have also become movies. To meet the changing times, and harness the interest of younger members, activities have included watching a move and reading the book with meetings focusing on contrasting the two.

The book club continues to attract new and old members with attendance ranging from 15 to 50 members.
The recent 28th anniversary celebration featured author of Looking for Hope by Mbinguni. The lively discussion, diverse crowd and interesting questions clearly demonstrated the love of reading is as enduring as it was 28 years ago.
Dedicated to their mission of celebrating a love of literacy and supporting local authors, P.R.I.D.E.’s future is as bright as their past.

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