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3rd District, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Howard University
Washington,  DC

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3rd District, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

On Friday, November 17, 1911, three Howard University undergraduate students, Frank Coleman, Oscar James Cooper and Edgar Amos Love, met with Professor Ernest Everett Just in his office in Science Hall (Thirkield Hall) to establish a fraternity. At this meeting, they decided upon the motto “friendship is essential to the soul” as symbolized by the letters Omega Psi Phi, which are the initials of the three Greek words that represent the motto. They chose Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift as the four cardinal principles of the fraternity and decided upon the design of the fraternity’s pin and escutcheon.

On Thursday, November 23, 1911, the three undergraduate Founders met and elected Love as Grand Basileus, Cooper as Grand Keeper of Records (Grand Keeper of Records and Seals or Grand KRS) and Coleman as Grand Keeper of Seals (Grand Keeper of Finance or Grand KF). After carefully studying the student body for prospective candidates, they chose eleven men who not only possessed the principles upon which the fraternity was founded but also were willing to help Omega on its way. The eleven Charter members chosen for the first chapter of the fraternity, Alpha, established at Howard University were: William S. Gilbert, Charles Young Harris, Clarence Albert Hayes, Benjamin Harry Jones, Clarence Osceola Lewis, Julius Henderson Love, William Albert Love, William Henry Pleasants, Charles Brougham Washington, Edgar Paul Westmoreland and Frank Howell Wimberly. The three Founders then formed a committee to draw up a constitution that would be submitted to the President of the university for faculty approval.

On Thursday, December 8, 1911, the committee made its report to the Grand Chapter, the constitution was adopted and each charter member signed the original document that was submitted to the President. The Grand Chapter had to work hard to win faculty approval at Howard although the men who signed the constitution were student leaders in academics and extracurricular activities. Rather than wait for faculty approval, they placed small placards in conspicuous places around campus announcing the existence of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and listed the names of its members.

On December 15, 1911, prior to faculty approval, Alpha Chapter, The Mother Pearl, was established at Howard University with fourteen Charter members. Along with the Founders, these eleven stalwart men selected on November 23rd formed the foundation of The Mother Pearl. At this meeting, Coleman was chosen as Alpha Chapter’s first Basileus, Edgar A. Love as its first Keeper of Records and Cooper as its first Keeper of Seals. While still awaiting faculty approval of its constitution and confident that approval would eventually come, Alpha Chapter voted on new members on February 21, 1912. On February 28, 1912, members of the temporary chapter took the oath of allegiance and Alpha Chapter held its first initiation, adding four new members, Moses T. Claybourne, Christopher Columbus Cook, William Barrington Jason and James Raymond Johnson. The permanent chapter was established with the election of Westmoreland as Basileus, Cook as Keeper of Records and Wimberly as Keeper of Seals.

On March 2, 1912, Brother Coleman and Brother Hayes reported to the Grand Officers and Alpha Chapter on their conference with the faculty and informed them that the President of the university resisted the fraternity’s national aspirations. The Brothers kept the article in the constitution regarding Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s national aspirations. Eventually, the faculty withdrew its objections and recognized the Fraternity as a national organization. The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Grand Chapter was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on October 28, 1914 by Edgar A. Love as Grand Basileus, Oscar J. Cooper as Grand Keeper of Records and Frank Coleman as Grand Keeper of Seals.

Having overcome faculty resistance for national expansion, Alpha Chapter appointed a committee to report on establishing a chapter at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. After recommending establishment of a chapter at Lincoln, Alpha Chapter appointed Cooper, John Howard McMorries (Alpha 1913) and William Griffith Carter Brannon (Alpha 1912) to carry out Omega’s expansion. On February 6, 1914, they initiated twenty men from Lincoln who became the Charter members of Beta Chapter, the second chapter established.

Omega Psi Phi had an early appeal for international students as Alpha Chapter initiated its first international student, from St. Vincent (now St. Vincent and the Grenadines), in 1912. Others followed from St. Kitts and the Dominican Republic.

The first Alpha Chapter House, in the year 1913, was located at 326 T Street, NW in Washington, DC. Within a few weeks, the Brothers moved to 322 T Street, NW and remained there until 1917. Otto Leland Bohannon (Alpha 1913) wrote the first official fraternity hymn, “Omega Men Draw Nigh,” in 1917. As Editor of “The Oracle,” the official organ of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Stanley Moreland Douglass (Alpha 1915) published its first issue in 1919.

During this period, the Brothers of Alpha Chapter firmly established Omega’s roots.

Approximately 2,000 men in 42 chapters throughout the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia comprise the Third District. The men of the Third District strive to render the greatest possible positive impact on its respective communities.

The Third District is comprised of approximately 2,000 members in 42 chapters throughout the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our District is truly historic as it is home to the birth chapter of Omega, Alpha Chapter at Howard University in Washington, DC, as well as the oldest graduate chapter in the Fraternity, Lambda Omega, in Norfolk, Virginia. The Third District is also home to several former Grand Officers, high-ranking military personnel and government officials, community leaders, judges, attorneys, health care professionals, successful entrepreneurs, influential pastors, educators and accomplished athletes.

The Third District and its chapters strive to render the greatest possible positive impact on our respective communities. Through Omega’s mandated programs such as Talent Hunt, we assist young people with tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship awar

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Founded: Frank Coleman, Oscar James Cooper and Edgar Amos Love, Ernest Everett Just

Categories: Community Organization, Non-Profit Organization

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