The story of a secret poker society started by pioneering African-Americans – Grand Forks Herald

So they started a monthly gathering in their homes and came up with a name to mask its true nature – the Brookland Literary and Hunting Club. Still going after more than 75 years, it is the subject of a project funded by the District’s Oral History Collaborative, which trains people to record pieces of the city’s history that will be archived in a special collection at the District Public Library.

The project’s creator, Eve Austin, first heard about the club when her husband Doug joined it last year. Now 54, he was a couple of generations younger than most members, many of whom are in their 90s. That lent an urgency to Austin’s undertaking.

“From the minute he told me about it, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re still playing?’ ” she said. “They started in 1940-something and they’re still playing?”

They were. Early members had included Matthew Whitehead, former president of Miner Teachers College in the District who was also a consultant on Brown vs. Board of Education; William Bryant, the first black chief judge of Washington’s federal court; and Minton Francis Sr., a high-ranking Howard administrator and one of a small number of African-American graduates of West Point at the time.

“These were serious men, but they had very few options for relaxing and getting together and just recreating,” Austin said.

None of the current members were part of the original group, but as pioneering African Americans, they mirrored those men’s legacy.

Walter Robinson, 97, was a Tuskegee airman. Tom Taylor, 91, was executive director of the National Capital Child Daycare Association. They came of age when black people were not allowed to try on or return clothes at a downtown department store, and witnessed the District’s transformations through the civil rights movement, desegregation, riots and

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