History

The "Mighty" Second District of the illustrious Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc is currently comprised of five eastern states New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. It has long been a bastion of the fraternities cardinal principles of "Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift" and motto "Friendship is Essential to the Soul."

It has had a long, glowing, and prosperous history. It is the birthplace of seven single-letter chapters, Beta, Epsilon, Iota (Fraternity's First Graduate Chapter (August 17, 1920, Atlantic City) later re-chartered in Chicago), Mu, Nu, Omicron, and Pi. It is the current home of the Kappa chapter (Syracuse Univ. February 18, 1922). Kappa chapter was originally charted at West Virginia State College in 1920.

 

The District in its current composition was also the "Fraternal Home" of five past Grand Basileus, Bros. Julius S. McClain, Grant Reynolds 21st, George E. Meares 26th, James Avery 28th, and Dr. Andrew Ray 39th, the first Grand Counselor, Hon. Richard E. Carey and Editor in Chief of the Oracle, Bro. Stanley M. Douglas. Two of the Fraternity's founders, Hon. Edgar A. Love and Hon. Dr. Oscar J. Cooper spent much of their professional lives in the Second District, and all four are at their final resting place here in the Second District. In addition, the District has hosted twelve Grand Conclaves.

As it is currently comprised, the Second District was founded in 1947. At the time, the District had eleven chapters; by the early seventies, there were over forty. At current, there are eighty chapters in the Second District.

  

In the early years of the Fraternity, there was no need for a division into districts, but as the Fraternity grew in size, it became a necessity. In 1922, Grand Basileus, Brother J. Alston Atkins, appointed district representatives.

 

The first officer of the District was: Brother Nathaniel Burrell ('20 Epsilon), who was elected the first President of the District Conference. However, at the next District meeting in Syracuse, N.Y., this office was abolished because the District Parliamentarian ruled that this office did not exist constitutionally.

 

The late Brother Mifflin T. Gibbs of Mu Omega Chapter in Philadelphia, PA, was appointed in 1946; his duties and responsibilities were clearly defined in Omega's Constitution. The responsibilities of the other District Officers were defined in the Second District by- Laws.

 

Brother Marion English, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a Y.M.C.A. Secretary, was the first elected D.K.R.S. He was succeeded by Brother National Burrell, who held this office for ten years. James L. Murray succeeded Brother Burrell, and both were cited for their meritorious service to the District.

 

Brother Richard E. Carey, Esq., of Xi Phi Chapter and the former Grand Counselor was the first District Counselor. Brother Carey also wrote with the assistance of other brothers the first District By-Laws and Constitution.

 

Brother H. Albion Ferrell (Grand Chaplain) was elected as the first District Chaplain. His successor was William C. Jason, Jr. (deceased) of Mu Omega Chapter of Philadelphia, PA. Brother Jason later became Chairman of the Recommendations Committee, and he served with distinction.

 

Bro. Mifflin Gibbs was elected to the office of District Representative in 1947. The late Brother Irving H. Selden of Epsilon Chapter of N.Y.C. was the founder and first Editor of the Omegan, and it was the official Voice of the District. Following Brother Selden was Brother Felmon Motley, who gave the Omegan an added distinction. Brother Wiliam Brazier succeeded Motley, and Brazier gave the Omegan and added pictorial and editorial scope. Our District Directors have continued publication of the Omegan and its excellence. They have maintained their high quality and high standards of good journalism in publicizing the Second District, and the Editors have contributed materials to our National publication, the Oracle.

 

Since its transfer through changing times coupled with the growth of Chapters, the Brothers of the Second District have distinguished themselves in many fields of endeavor. All of the District Representatives have been Brothers with dedication, men of vision, character, and action. In succession, they escalated the programs of the District to a higher plateau of Omega Brotherhood each year. The District grew in strength, wisdom, and prestige through their efforts, and Omega's light shined throughout the Second District. There isn't enough time and space to list all of their names, but here are some prime examples of some of the most important contributions made by Omega Men of the Second District.

 

Bro. Robert C. Weaver ('26 Kappa Omicron), the 1ST African – American Cabinet member (H.U.D.), was a housing expert who served as the Housing and Home Finance Agency Administrator. He then became the first African American cabinet officer when President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1966. He was awarded the Spingarn Medal in1962. Bro. Weaver left the government in 1969 to become President of Bernard Baruch College of the City University of New York and from 1970 to 1978 was professor of urban affairs at Hunter College.

Bro. George E. Meares ('28 Kappa Omicron), when Past Grand Basileus was the Second District D.R., District showed its first sign of financial growth. Meares was the first D.R. to introduce the system of District dues which were to be paid by the Brothers of each Chapter to help defray the expenses of the District Conference programs and the District Officers. He also visited all of the Chapters, accompanied by the late Herschel (Rip) Day. They supervised all chapter initiations and had the Ritualistic ceremony committed to memory. Meares and Day also sponsored a very impressive "Model Initiation Ceremony" at the District Conference in Philadelphia. Bro. Meares was responsible for reactivating the Chapter of the University of Pennsylvania in late 1950.

Bro. Grant Reynolds ('31 Epsilon) (21st Grand Basileus) was a civic leader, civil rights activist, World War II chaplain, attorney, and educator. He was best known as a leading force in ending segregation in the United States Armed Forces. On October 10, 1947, he and A. Philip Randolph organized the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training. Reynolds acted as the committee's national chairman, campaigning with Randolph to defeat a peacetime draft bill that failed to end racial discrimination. Aiming to focus public attention on the hypocrisy inherent in a segregated American military, Reynolds and Randolph threatened to organize a civil disobedience campaign in which African Americans would resist the draft law. On July 26, 1948, Truman responded by signing Executive Order 9981, which mandated "equal treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."

Bro. James S. Avery Sr. ('57 Omicron Chi) Brother Avery served the Second District as its director of public relations, then as First Vice District Representative, and finally District Representative. His mercuric rise through the Fraternity's ranks was unparallel. Within 12 years of being initiated into the Fraternity, Brother Avery was elected Grand Basileus. He served as Grand Basileus for from l970-l973. During his administration, the Fraternity started a drug education program, a youth educational motivation program, a program to fund the Fraternity's national housing effort project, and a national Health O-Rama initiative. Brother Avery also reorganized the Life Membership program, expanded the Fraternity's Scholarship Commission, and stimulated chapter growth and development. Through his leadership, Brother James S. Avery created the first Shirtsleeve Conference in September of 1963. The first Shirtsleeve Conference was held at the Palmer Inn on Route #1. The Brothers of Delta Upsilon of Trenton, N.J., were the host for several years.

 

One of the most important events of the Annual District Conferences was the talent hunt program which has been competitive on the local and District level. The District has sent outstanding participants (winners in the District) to the various Grand Conclaves. The idea of a Talent Hunt Program was created because many Black youths could not display their talents as other ethnic American youth in our communities. Many of the District Talent Hunt winners and participants have appeared on T.V. Many winners have entered the entertainment and classical fields. Thus, we must salute Brother Alphonso J. Patterson. During his tenure as the District Talent Hunt Chairman, we locally conducted the Martin Luther King Male Glee Club of the Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, N.Y. Because of the talent and leadership of Brother Patterson, the Glee Club made a European Tour.

In addition to its many "Firsts," the Second District also boasts the Fraternity's first "Inter-Racial Chapter" ('Spr 49 Upsilon Phi) at Rutgers University.

 

Another example of Omega Men's strength and an effort to move Omega on the front line of community involvement, Brother Samuel C. Coleman of Upsilon Tau Chapter in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Co-Chairman of the National Social Action Committee, devoted three years of research and campaign to create a $10 million housing project in Brooklyn, N.Y. The housing project was named in honor of the late Langston Hughes, the Negro Poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Brother Hughes was an active member of the Xi Phi Chapter in New York City. During the sixties, Mayor John V. Lindsay of N.Y.C. and other officials and Brothers officiated at the Langston Hughes Branch, Public Library in Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y.

During this early growth of the District, Brother Lovell "Skip" Sutherland organized and successfully held the program "Books and Education for Africa ."Another District program that was fostered was the social action program named E.D.D.A.N. However, this program did not reach its full potential. The late Brother Irving H. Selden of Epsilon Chapter of N.Y.C. was the founder and first Editor of the Omegan, and it was the official Voice of the District. Following Brother Selden was Brother Felmon Motley, who gave the Omegan an added distinction. Brother William Brazier succeeded Motley, and Brazier gave the Omegan.

Brothers and District Representatives Norman and Milton Johnson encouraged the reassessment of the (Shirtsleeve Conference, workshops, finance seminars, Undergraduate Workshops, and forums) in Omega programming designed to give the maximum rise of the human resource skills we have in Omega on the District level. The financial growth of the District was progressive during the administrations of D.R.'s Robert Johnson, Ermon Jones, E.W. Waters, James Avery, James E. Grant, Norman, and Milton Johnson.

Since 1963, Chapters of the District have hosted the Annual Shirtsleeve Conference, which is held during the month of September. This important Conference allows the Brotherhood to brainstorm with each other and create programs for the growth of the Second District. As was stated earlier, This Conference was the brainchild of James S. Avery, at the urging of William C. Jason of Mu Omega. Seymour Hundley, J. Minor Sullivan, Charles Buford, and James Murray of the Delta Upsilon Chapter made the early conference preparations. The ideas of a brainstorming working conference served as the model for the Supreme Council and Grand Basileus in creating the bi-annual "International Leadership Conference." 

District Representatives have helped create a healthy thrust for annual conferences by forming themes for each District Conference. This has stimulated discussion, growth, and motivation. The themes have some of our National Achievement Week Observances and the Brotherhood. Some of the themes were: Omega's Challenge in the '80s, Accent on Service Accountability: A Continuous Process, New Directions for Black America, and our 1989 Theme of "The Black Family: Indispensable Resource."

Our District Representatives beginning in 1964 to the present, have had the foresight to practice their expertise in business, public relations, and financial careers to enhance the District. Their experience helped the District grow to a higher level with the advent of computers, networking, ability to motivate and to travel across the U.S.A., gathering new ideas.

 

As a result, seminars and experts were attracted to assist Omega in the Second District. The D.R.'s also maintained a humble attitude that we must expand and still help the less unfortunate members in our communities. Plans were created to improve their status by sponsoring clinics, Health Fairs, Homes for the Aged, and providing tutorial services.

Talent has no limitation for the Chapters have raised money for the United Negro College Fund. Theta Omicron of Rochester has raised tens of thousands of dollars, and Mu Omega has done the same for the UNCF.

 

Other programs such as the N.A.A.C.P. annually receive financial support from Omega. Individual brothers have also contributed their corporate monies to private and African-American institutions. While Bro. Joseph Black was Vice President for the Greyhound Corporation; he gave Morgan State University a bus and $10,000. The District has stayed true to its roots by doing much to support education, our communities, and our youngsters. We, as Omega Men, must never forget that we must lift others as we climb.

In 2007, Omega and the Mighty Second District lost one of its most prolific figures. Brother Eddie Taylor served Omega since 1928. As a young member of one of the Fraternity's oldest undergraduate chapters, Bro. Taylor went on to serve Omega in many capacities. He was awarded for his persistence and ever-resounding efforts, Bro. Taylor has been missed in the District. In September of 2007, the District Information Technology committee displayed a particular page commemorating Brother Taylor's service to Omega. We are stronger because of Bro. Taylor and his spirit will forever live in the Mighty Second District.

In keeping with the Second District's progressive nature, the 2000s has borne brothers like Alpha Upsilon's

Bro. Thabiti Boone is an inspirational public figure, speaker, college basketball Hall of Famer, author, leader, minister, and humanitarian. He is a strong supporter of President Obama White House Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. He is the International Representative for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. He is a Fatherhood Advisor to N.B.A. Legend Allan Houston/Allan Houston Foundation. As a former N.Y. Theological Seminary Adjunct Professor, Thabiti created and taught the first-ever course on Fatherhood and Black Males and its Biblical impact and implications on the role and influence of the Church and Community. He is an advisor to Fathers and Men of Professional Basketball Players, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading voices, leaders, and organizers on Fatherhood, Manhood, and Strengthening Families.

Epsilon's Bro. J. Kendall Smalls, Professionally, Kendall found his calling in the specialized area of fertility. Among his most notable achievements, Kendall worked with the world-renowned embryologist, Dr. Jacque Cohen, a leading scientist in the field of in-vitro fertilization at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. He would receive a Master's of Science Degree in Clinical Embryology from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. The University of Leeds is one of only two educational institutions to award an advanced degree in the study of embryology, and Kendall is the first African American to hold this degree from Leeds University. He has since devoted his work toward addressing infertility issues for persons of color. His goal is to enlighten the community about the advancements in in-vitro fertilization with the expectation that doing so will take away the shame and misinformation currently associated with it. Within the realm of Omega, Kendall has been the Vice Basileus (vice president) of Nu Omicron chapter in Queens; a member of the Board of Directors for the Early Childhood Development Center run by Nu Omicron Chapter; four-time Basileus, of Epsilon Chapter—the 5th oldest chapter in the entire Fraternity; the 2nd District Health Officer, Social Action Chair on the District and International level. He has also served the 2nd District as the 1st Vice District Representative and the District Representative. 

Some Prominent Second District Omega Men

Bro. Dr. Hildrus Augustus "Gus" Poindexter ('22 Beta) was a bacteriologist who studied the epidemiology of tropical diseases. He graduated cum laude in 1924 with his A.B. degree from Lincoln University in P.A. He worked as a high school teacher in Oxford, NC, before entering Dartmouth Medical School to complete the first two years of the medical curriculum. His excellence at Dartmouth earned him admission to Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, from which he received his M.D. in 1929. Poindexter worked briefly at the John A. Andrew Hospital at Tuskegee in A.L. before accepting a two-year fellowship from the General Education Board for study in preparation to joining the Howard Medical faculty as a full-time member. His fellowship work was accomplished at Columbia University, where he received an A.M. in Microbiology in 1930 and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 1932. Subsequently, he earned an M.P.H. in public health and tropical medicine from Harvard in 1932. He entered military service in 1943 and had a very distinguished career as an expert on Malaria and other tropical diseases. His military service included serving as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service (U.S.P.H.S.). In 1947, Senior Surgeon Poindexter was appointed to the Mission to Liberia as chief of laboratory and medical research in West Africa. The mission's goal was to help the Liberian government in sanitation planning and the control of infectious diseases. He became director in 1948. In 1953 he was transferred to Indochina, and he went on to serve in various other places such as Vietnam, Surinam, Iraq, Libya, and Sierra Leone before briefly returning to the faculty of Howard University. [4]. Poindexter published his autobiography, My World Of Reality, in 1973 in which he candidly discusses his various life experiences including dealings with racial prejudice.

Bro. Langston Hughes ('27 Beta) is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories, plays, and poetry and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and its influence on his writing, as in his book-length poem Montage of a Dream Deferred (Holt, 1951). His life and work were enormously influential in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period—Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen—Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the shared experience of black America. His poems "Mother to Son" and "To Artina" have a special significance to the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.

Bro. Frank "Tick" Coleman ('32 Beta) was noted for supporting those institutions that helped him succeed and mentoring many youths in Philadelphia. As a guidance counselor, and through Lincoln University, Coleman mentored hundreds of young people in the black community. He helped finance their education through scholarships that he funded. Bro. Coleman dedicated many years to bringing Scouting to underprivileged youth. The B.S.A. created Dr. Frank "Tick" Coleman National Service Award to honor paraprofessional Scouters to honor his years of service. These Scouters serve underprivileged youth. In 2007 it was estimated that he was the oldest living black Eagle Scout.

Bro. Joe Black ('47 Pi) is an All-time great Brooklyn Dodger baseball player. The Brooklyn Dodgers promoted Black to the major leagues in 1952, five years after teammate Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. Bro. Black won the National League Rookie of the Year after winning 15 games and saving 15 others. He had a 2.15 ERA but, with 142 innings pitched, fell 8 innings short of winning the E.R.A. title. On October 1, 1952, Black became the first black pitcher to win a World Series game when he pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to a 4 to 2 victory over the New York Yankees. 1952 was the highlight of his five-year career, and he retired with a record of 30 wins and 12 losses. After his playing career ended, he worked in the baseball commissioner's office advising players on career choices and became an executive with the Greyhound Bus Company. He also taught health and physical education at Hubbard Junior High School in Plainfield, N.J., in the same community where he grew up.

Bro. Byron E. Lewis Sr. ('54 Zeta Psi), C.E.O. of Uniworld (founded 1969), Pioneered the concept of Multicultural advertising out of necessity well before its potential was widely recognized. Minorities were not represented in media, major corporations, or Madison Avenue, yet he saw a way to get mainstream brands to advertise to the black community. Uniworld is the nation's oldest surviving multicultural agency, with a client roster that's included Ford, Colgate-Palmolive, AT&T, Burger King, Home Depot, and many others. In 1994 Uniworld generated Burger King's most significant 6-month sales increase in its history. A multicultural innovator, Lewis' groundbreaking campaign for the film Shaft in 1971 brought black culture front and center. He pioneered branded entertainment with the syndicated soap opera Sounds of the City for Quaker Oats. He branched out into other multicultural segments, including Hispanics. Uniworld is the longest-standing minority-owned advertising agency in the U.S.

Bro. Earl Graves ('54 Pi) Earl G. Graves is a nationally recognized authority on Black business development. He is an American entrepreneurpublisher, businessman, and philanthropist. A graduate of Morgan State University, where he earned a B.A. degree in economics, he has received honorary degrees from 53 colleges and universities, including his alma mater. Mr. Graves is a member of the National Black College Hall of Fame and lectured at Yale University as a Poynter Fellow. He is the founder of Black Enterprise magazine and chairman of the media company Earl G. Graves, Ltd. He is the current director for Aetna and Executive Board member of the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1972, he was named one of the ten most outstanding minority business people in the country by the President of the United States. He received the National Award of Excellence in recognition of his achievements in minority business enterprise. And in 1999, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal. Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000, Mr. Graves is continually sought after as a keynote speaker by small and large corporations and the public and non-profit sectors of business in America. He has authored a book entitled "How to Succeed in Business Without Being White."

Bro. Joseph J. Yancy Jr. ('50 Kappa Omicron) In 1936, Bro. Yancey Organized and co-founded the New York Pioneers Track and Field Club. This interracial track team, which has developed many Olympic athletes, was the first of its kind in the United States. Bro. Yancey offered a total commitment to his group, often the only place for Asian-American, African-American, Italian, Jewish, and female athletes to practice.

In the Olympics of 1948, 1952, and 1956, Yancey served as the head coach of the Jamaican Olympic team. His 1952 group included the "Flying Quartet," a relay team that ran the 1,600-meter race in 3 minutes, 39 seconds, thereby winning the gold medal in world record time. He also worked with Olympic teams from the Bahamas (1956 and 1960), British Guyana (1960), and the U.S. Virgin Islands (1968). Yancey never got to coach the Olympic team of his home country. Until recently, this post was reserved for well-known college mentors or athletes, a distinction that passed over Joe Yancey and other African Americans for many years. When the United States finally hired the first non-white Olympic coach in 1984, however, Larry Ellis, a man whom Yancey had coached with the Pioneer Club. Among Yancey's many lifetime awards and honors were several prestigious inductions, including the Black Athletes Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the Harlem Professionals, Inc. Hall of Fame.