Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (1911- )

 

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Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, one of the five
fraternities for African American men, was founded on November 17, 1911 on the
campus of Howard University
in Washington, D.C.  It is the first African American fraternity
established at a historically black college.
The three founders—Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper, and Frank Coleman—established the fraternity in the belief that “friendship is essential to the
soul.” Out of this idea was born the guiding principles of the fraternity:
Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift. Love, Cooper, and Coleman
extended the status of founder to their faculty advisor, Dr. Ernest Everett
Just
, who would eventually become a world-renowned biologist.

Today Omega Psi Phi Fraternity has over 700 chapters across
the United States, Bermuda,
the Bahamas, the Virgin
Islands
, South Korea, Japan, Liberia,
Germany, and Kuwait.

Notable Omegas include Robert C. Weaver, the first black
Presidential Cabinet Member, entertainers Bill Cosby and Steve Harvey, civil
rights
activists Jesse Jackson, Roy Wilkins, and Vernon Jordan, former U.S.
Surgeon General David Satcher, former governor L. Douglas Wilder, Harlem
Renaissance writer Langston Hughes, astronaut Ronald McNair, musicians Count
Basie
and Max Roach, and athletes Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal.

From its inception, the fraternity worked to encourage
scholarship and uplift among African Americans.
In 1927, Omega member Carter G. Woodson persuaded the fraternity to become
the first national organization to sponsor National Negro Achievement Week each
February.  The annual observance has now
evolved into Black History Month.

The fraternity continued its public service over the
decades.  In 1948 it established the
Charles R. Drew Scholarship Fund, named after a prominent Omega scientist.  In 1955 the fraternity donated the first
annual gift of $50,000 to the United Negro College Fund.  In the 1960s many Omegas took part in sit-ins,
protests, and marches. Today, each of the 700 chapters is required to maintain a
Life Membership at Large in the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP)
.  In 1981, the
fraternity endowed its first faculty chair at Rust
College
in Holly
Springs, Mississippi.

Omega’s health initiatives include the annual Charles Drew Blood Drive,
AIDS/HIV awareness discussions, and support for the programs of the American
Diabetes Association.  Through its
current scholarship program the fraternity supports African American
undergraduates in various institutions across the nation.

Source:

Lawrence C. Ross, Jr., The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America (New York: Kensington, 2000); Daniel Soyer, "Fraternities and Sororities," Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996); Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, 2007, http://www.omegapsiphifraternity.org/.