There was work to be done in Ellison’s day, and there is work to be done in ours.
Our mission, while shaped by the cultural moment, is rooted in the efforts of Ellison and his contemporaries, who dedicated their lives to art that strengthens connections and honors humanity. Our work is bolstered by this heritage as we work toward connection and understanding.
Ellison’s Oklahoma roots run deep, and our work is deeply situated within our state and city’s distinct culture. While our racial history is fraught, we seek to tap into the uniquely Oklahoman spirit embodying resilience, community, and optimism.
Our Mission & Vision
The Ralph Ellison Foundation connects communities, shapes culture, and shifts perspectives through literature, legacy, and the arts. Our vision is to extend Ellison’s legacy to a new generation. We do this through community initiatives, education and programming, and a pursuit of social change.
Our Impact & Accomplishments
The Ralph Ellison Foundation stands alone as the premier Literary Arts Organization in Oklahoma City. In 2017, the success of our “In the Light Bulb Room” series revealed to us the durability of our model for high-minded community conversations about race and society as we developed it throughout the year. Expanding the series statewide with support from Oklahoma Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities meant adapting it for different topics and specific localities. Moving it from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, Stillwater, and Norman to reach a diverse cross section of Oklahomans and address their various interests, we also experienced a remarkable degree of enthusiasm from session participants that underscores the importance of these conversations on the local level. These forums have allowed us to engage over 1,000 people statewide. With proper funding, the Foundation can continue these forums throughout the state of Oklahoma. We believe the kinds of issues we’ve addressed are equally relevant to those living in the forgotten areas of our state.
Our Creative Writing Workshops have showcased some of the most talented writers, poets, and scholars in Oklahoma. Adults and student attendees continue to improve their writing skills. They are exposed to multiple genres in our workshops and many have gone on to write their own book. Beyond learning writing skills, they are challenged to view the world through the eyes of the presenter, thereby enriching their perspective of other peoples and cultures. With proper funding, the Foundation can carry the Creative Writing Workshops throughout Oklahoma, create a publishing company to publish local authors to highlight the stories of Oklahoma.
With a grant from Oklahoma Humanities, the Foundation was able to create a curriculum based on Ralph Ellison’s “Flying Home and Other Stories,” a collection of Ellison’s short fiction published after the author’s passing in 1994. The curriculum is available to high school teachers free. We have had over 200 downloads from our website. By using the curriculum, teacher will engage students with Ellison’s stories and linked themes of racial conflict, troubled identity, assimilation, rebellion, loss and grief, the yearning to belong, fulfillment found through adversity, and the struggle for social justice. With proper funding, the Foundation would like to conduct teaching training seminars regarding the most efficient way to utilize the curriculum and provide the book to schools free of charge.
Last year, the Ralph Ellison Foundation Mural Project was piloted at Classen High School Of Advanced Studies. It was a huge success. Teacher, Tony Dyke used the Mural Project curriculum in his photography class and his students were able to express their challenges and future aspirations through taking photos of their rooms, neighborhoods, daily activities, and images of what they desire for their futures. With proper funding, this project curriculum can be used in middle and high schools throughout Oklahoma.
Also, the artwork will be displayed as a traveling Mural Display exhibit bringing attention to problems facing our students and their hopes & dreams.
The Ralph Ellison Foundation Reading Clinic has helped students pass the 3rd grade reading test for the past 4 years. The Clinic serves students from the 1st to 5th grade. Our volunteers are passionate about reading and they live to see a child’s face glow from learning how to read and
Each year, the Foundation hosts the Ralph Ellison Festival and Gala in Ellison’s honor as a way of increasing awareness of his life and work to broader cultural audiences.
The Foundation also envisions long-term goals of establishing a multicultural center in Oklahoma City as well as honoring Ellison with a birthplace marker and statue.
Executive Director, Founder
Director of Community Outreach
Director of Education
Board Vice President
Juan S. Price
Power House Church
Dr. Pamela Bracken
Southern Nazerene University, Division of Cultural and Communication Studies
Former Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General
Former Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General
Oklahoma City Council,
Dr. Tracy Floreani
Oklahoma City University,
Department of English
Dr. Arthur G. LeFrancois
Oklahoma City University, School of Law
Oklahoma City University, Director of Student Diversity & Inclusion
Universal Development Enterprise
Rev. Dr. George E. Young, Sr.
OK State Senator
Projects and Performance Officer, ODHS
Case Manager, Oklahoma County Diversion Hub
The Honorable David Holt
Mayor of Oklahoma City
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University
The Honorable David L. Boren
13th President of the University of Oklahoma, Former U.S. Senator of Oklahoma
The Honorable James Lankford
U.S. Senator of Oklahoma
The Honorable Robert Henry
17th President of Oklahoma City University
The Honorable Mick Cornett
35th Mayor of Oklahoma City
Samuel Combs III
President and CEO, COMSTAR Advisiors, LLC
Dr. Horace Porter
F. Wendell Miller Professor of English and American Studies, University of Iowa
Dr. Laura Gellott
Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Donate to the
Ralph Ellison Foundation
At the Ralph Ellison Foundation, we value building community and fostering collaboration above all else. That’s definitely a challenge during these strange and isolated days of COVID-19. Since we’re taking social distancing seriously as we all do our part to prevent the coronavirus’ spread, we have to put our public events on hold for at least a little while.
In the meantime, we’re pleased to present to you Covid-safe programming you can enjoy at a distance like our Online Reading Series. We hope you enjoy the selections we’ve decided to share with you, featuring local talent like Gwendolyn Hooks below, and that they bring you both insight and cheer as we navigate this crisis together. We’ll keep you posted about future installments, and we’ll look forward to resuming regular programming when the time is right…and to seeing you in-person soon!
The Online Reading Series
In this selection, Oklahoma City writer Gwendolyn Hooks reads her book Nathan and the Secret Project.