Omega Calls Her Sons Of Light Omega Psi Phi Celebrates At Centennial Conclave BY JOHN B. SMITH, JR. On January 1, 1940, Herman Dreer wrote that the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. had “caused more than six thousand college men to pledge themselves to lives of noblest ideals.” Now, 100 years after its founding in 1911, with its Cardinal Principles – Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift, the fraternity has an estimated 760 chapters in 13 districts that span not only the continental United States, but also Bermuda, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany, and Kuwait. Today, Omega continues to flourish with men of the very highest ideals and intellect. Members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., known as the Ques, converged of our nation’s capital from July 27th through July 31st, 2011 with a sea of royal purple and old gold, celebrating 100 years of Omega. At Washington, DC, there were many events hosted by the fraternity. During the week of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Centennial Conclave, the members of the Fraternity painted Washington, D.C. and its surrounding neighborhoods as they visited wearing clothing and paraphernalia trimmed with royal purple and old gold, the Fraternity’s official colors. The celebration and Conclave culminated to one of the most notable events on Saturday, July 30th with a banquet. Omega Psi Phi member Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. served as the banquet’s keynote speaker. Jackson firmly acknowledged the strength of the fraternity and recognized many key events led by Omega Men throughout history. He took time to point out, however, that there is still work to be done in America. Lots of people in still financial crises, facing foreclosures, homeless, unemployment… nation fighting debts with Congress’s continual fighting. He stressed the importance of ethnic equality and a level playing field in order to achieve voting and political equity, to shut down discrimination and to better our country. Jackson, the Fraternity’s Grand Basileus Dr. Andrew Ray and the entire Omega Psi Phi Fraternity stood with applause, respect and in affirmation and respect of our nation’s President Barack Obama. During Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.’s Centennial Conclave, President Obama met with the Grand Officers of the Fraternity and expressed his congratulations and support of the continued endeavors of the Fraternity. Though not the first Black fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is the first Black fraternity to be founded at a historically Black college. Omega Psi Phi was founded on November 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington, D. C. Pioneers of this noble Greek institution began with students and Brothers Edgar Amos Love, Oscar J. Cooper, Frank Coleman and faculty advisor Brother Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Each of the students graduated and went on to have distinguished careers. Edgar Amos Love became Bishop of the United Methodist Church; Dr. Oscar James Cooper became a prominent physician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Professor Frank Coleman became the chairman of the Department of Physics at Howard University; and Dr. Ernest E. Just continued to lead students as an educator while becoming a world-renowned biologist. The Founders selected and attracted men of similar ideals and characteristics. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. was established on November 17, 1911 on the campus of Howard University. Omega Psi Phi was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on October 28, 1914. By 1920, the fraternity had 10 chapters. Conclaves were held annually. The Conclave in Atlanta in 1921 marked the end of the first decade of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., with Harold H. Thomas serving as the 8th Grand Basileus. Atlanta went on to host the fraternity’s 23rd Conclave in December 1935, 40th Conclave in 1954, 57th Conclave in August 1976, 67th Conclave in 1992, as well as the 1969 Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Constitutional Convention. In 1927, at the urging of Brother Carter G. Woodson, the fraternity made National Negro Achievement Week an annual observance and it continues today as Black History Month. Since 1945, the fraternity has undertaken a National Social Action Program to meet the needs of African Americans in the areas of health, housing, civil rights, and education. Omega Psi Phi has been a patron of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). There are many notable Omega Men recognized as leaders in many fields including the arts, the sciences, academics, athletics, business, Civil Rights, education, government, and science sectors at the local, national and international levels. Some of these men include Executive Directors of the NAACP Roy Wilkins and Benjamin Hooks; the former President of the National Urban League, Vernon Jordan; Dr. Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., the first Black to serve in the United States Astronaut Program; and President and CEO of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Jesse Jackson. Two former governors William H. Hastie (United States Virgin Islands) and Lawrence Douglas Wilder (Virginia), and numerous presidents of colleges and universities are members. NBA basketball players Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Vince Carter are also members of this fraternity. Earl Graves, owner and editor and chief of Black Enterprise magazine. Langston Hughes (Black poet laureate, poet, playwright and novelist), William H. “Bill” Cosby (comedian, author and actor), William (Count) Basie (pianist, composer and band leader), Ed “Too Tall” Jones (former Dallas Cowboys football player), NFL’s Steve McNair, Therman McKenzie (former co-owner of M & M Products, Sta Soft Fro), Nathaniel Bronner (co-owner of Bronner Brothers Beauty), Civil Rights attorney James Nabrit, Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays (President Emeritus of Morehouse College, writer and lecturer), scientist Percy Julian, astronauts Charles Bolden, Dr. Ronald E. McNair and Guion S. Bluford are all Omega Men. Tom Joyner (radio show host), Steve Harvey (radio show host and entertainer) and Rickey Smiley (radio show host) are also members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. John B. Smith, Sr., Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Atlanta Inquirer; and son John B. Smith, Jr., Editor of The Atlanta Inquirer, are Brothers in the esteemed Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. John B. Smith Sr. is also a past chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of over 200 Black newspapers / periodicals in the United States. During the Inquirer’s beginnings in the 1960s, Omega Men Jesse Hill, Jr., Clinton E. Warner, Jr., and John B. Smith, Sr. helped the Atlanta newspaper become the voice of the Atlanta Black Student Movement that was the catalyst for the Atlanta Civil Rights Movement. Hill, activist and business leader in Atlanta, and Warner, retired Atlanta physician, continue to serve on the Inquirer’s advisory board. Both Hill and Warner were heavily instrumental the integration of Atlanta and the state of Georgia through challenging the racist South of its discriminatory practices. Hill led drives to select qualified Black students to integrate predominantly-White institutions such as Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University. He also was crucial in the inclusion of the Black perspective and Black representation in the socio-politico-economic system. Warner is known for being one of the plaintiffs in lawsuits against the segregated medical and dental associations and societies in Atlanta and in Georgia. He also is credited with breaking down the wall of housing segregation in Atlanta, being the first Black man to purchase several acres of land in the affluent and then-segregated southwest Atlanta area. Warner’s father, Clinton E. Warner, Sr., was one of the founders of the fraternity’s Eta Chapter in Atlanta in December 1919. Eta Chapter (now Eta Omega Chapter) was the seventh permanent chapter of the fraternity to be established. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.’s current Grand Officers are Dr. Andrew Ray, Grand Basileus; Tony Knox, First Vice Grand Basileus; Robert Littlejohn, Jr., Second Vice Grand Basileus; Curtis Baylor, Grand Keeper of Records and Seal; Horace Chase, Grand Keeper of Finance; Reverend Dr. Christopher Curry, Grand Chaplain; Christopher Cooper, Grand Counselor; Kenneth A. Brown, Grand Marshal; Warren G. Lee Jr., Immediate Past (38th) Grand Basileus; George H. Grace, 37th Grand Basileus; Lloyd Jordan, Esq., 36th Grand Basileus; Dr. Dorsey Miller, 35th Grand Basileus; C. Tyrone Gilmore, Sr., 34th Grand Basileus; Dr. Moses C. Norman, 33rd Grand Basileus; Burnel E. Coulon, 31st Grand Basileus; Dr. Edward Braynon, Jr., 30th Grand Basileus; and James Avery, 28th Grand Basileus. The 33rd Grand Basileus, Dr. Moses C. Norman is currently a member at Eta Omega Chapter in Atlanta, Georgia and served as the Fraternity’s Grand Basileus from 1984 through 1990. As the Conclave concluded, Omegas hugged one another and revered their dear beloved Fraternity, Omega Dear. One of their prolific historic songs quotes, “We rise to the skies that we prize ending wrong… wrapped in mantles of fame for Omega’s dear name we will fight with all might for the right.” Congratulations to Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and its members, blazing glory, bringing the world to fame, separate but one in aim.
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