Lifting as we Climb
-Mary Church Terrell
The Eighties (80s), Nineties (90s) & Today
THE HISTORY OF OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY, INC.
In 1981, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity endowed its first endowed Omega faculty chair at Rust College, located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. President W.A. McMillan stated that the chair would be used to promote the humanities.
Grand Basileus Moses C. Norman, Sr., was elected at the 1984 Louisville Grand Conclave and served six years, the longest tenure of any Grand Basileus. He appointed a committee to review the structure and operations of the fraternity as a means of future focus.
In 1984, John S. Epps was selected as only the fifth Omega man to serve as Executive Secretary. H. Carl Moultrie was named, Executive Secretary Emeritus. The 75th Anniversary Grand Conclave celebration was held July 25-August 1, 1986, in Washington, D.C., the city of Omega’s birth. It surpassed the previous attendance record.
On January 28, 1986, Brother Ronald McNair died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Later that year, Brother Jesse Jackson Jr. became a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Also, Don Q. Pullen and W. Mercer Cook entered Omega Chapter. On January 13, 1990, Brother L. Douglas Wilder became Virginia’s sixty-sixth governor and became the first elected African American governor in United States history. C. Tyrone Gilmore Sr. became the 34th Grand Basileus in June 1990. Under his leadership, a site for a new World Center and International Headquarters located in Decatur Ga. was identified. Also, the structure was revamped and the international chapters were transformed into the 13th District. The first Youth Leadership Conference was held in 1993 at Southwest College located in Los Angeles, California. Over 100 young men were hand to hear Omega men talk about subjects ranging from manners to morality.
Dorsey C. Miller Jr., the fraternity’s 16th Second Vice Grand Basileus, was chosen as the 35th Grand Basileus at the Cleveland Grand Conclave in 1994. He was the 1st member to be elected to both positions. Miller’s administration closed the sale of the property at 3951 Snapfinger Parkway, which is the site of new international headquarters. The property at 2714 Georgia Ave. N.W. was disposed. The Georgia Avenue location served as the fraternity’s headquarter for 31 years and the fraternity shield that adorned the facade is now at the Smithsonian.
Lloyd J. Jordan, Esq., who had previously served as Grand Counselor, was elected the 36th Grand Basileus at the 70th Grand Conclave in 1998 in New Orleans. In 1998, Brother David Satcher was appointed the 16th Surgeon General of the United States. Brother Togo West, Jr. was appointed Secretary of Veteran Affairs. Brother S. Earl Wilson was appointed executive director in June 2000.
In 2002, George Grace was elected Grand Basileus during the 72nd Grand Conclave held in Charlotte, N.C. Under Grace’s leadership the fraternity realized financial solvency and a steady increase in its membership rolls.
Warren G. Lee Jr., who served as the 23rd Second Grand Vice Basileus, became the 38th Grand Basileus during the Little Rock Grand Conclave in 2008. During Lee’s tenure, Omega fortified its mission and brought sustenance to those in need. Omega men across the United States mentored the youth and organized various social action programs and donated millions to worthy causes.
In 2010, Dr. Andrew A. Ray was elected the 39th Grand Basileus during the 76th Grand Conclave held in Raleigh, North Carolina. During his administration, Omega became the first black Greek organization to charter an undergraduate chapter in Great Britain. The fraternity also joined forces with President Barack Obama to promote fatherhood and responsible parenting through the national Fatherhood Initiative. Omega celebrated its 100th anniversary with a grand celebration held in July, 2011, in Washington D.C. Attendance exceeded 10,000. During that gathering, Brother Kenneth Barnes was named International Executive Director.
Antonio F. Knox Sr. was elected the fraternity’s 40th Grand Basileus during the Grand Conclave in Philadelphia in 2014. Under Knox, the fraternity championed a number of civil rights initiatives. Omega became a strong voice against police brutality, efforts to suppress voting rights and other social ills. The fraternity sought plausible solutions to civil unrest that erupted in urban communities following fatal police shootings of several unarmed African-Americans. Today, Omega Psi Phi has over 700 chapters throughout the United States, Bermuda, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany, and Kuwait.
There are many notable Omega Men recognized as leaders in the arts, the sciences, academics, athletics, business, civil rights, education, government, and science sectors at the local, national and international level.
Omega continues to flourish, largely because founders — Cooper, Coleman, Love and Just — were men of the highest ideals and intellect. The founders selected and attracted men of similar ideals and characteristics. It is not an accident that many of America’s great black men are or were Omega Men.
Since its humble beginnings on the Howard University campus, the Omega Psi Phi fraternity continues to be on the front line, leveraging its power, influence and more than 100 years of commitment to the uplift of our people and our communities.