Lifting as we Climb
-Mary Church Terrell
THE HISTORY OF OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY, INC.
In 1922, J. Alston Atkins, the 9th Grand Basileus, appointed the first district representatives. Today, there are eleven such officers who are elected annually at district meetings.
Also in 1922, the office of Vice Grand Basileus was created. The Grand Keeper of Records became the Grand Keeper of the Records and Seal. In 1923, Lambda Chapter affectionately referred to as “the pearl of the west coast,” was organized at the University of Southern California. Omega Psi Phi becomes the first black Greek organization to span its membership across the United States – from the Atlantic (Iota in Atlantic City) to the Pacific (Lambda in Los Angeles). Sigma chapter was organized at McGill University, which is located in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) on December 15, 1923. Brother Walter R. Dunston, former Basileus of Phi chapter, set up the fraternity’s first international chapter with the assistance of Brother George W. Brown. In 1926, the memorial for Brother Colonel Charles Young is held at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorial Service is established to memorialize Brother Young’s birthday. The first Omega Bulletin was published in 1928 and Campbell C. Johnson was the editor. In 1930, Omega Psi Phi became one of five founding members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council with 13th Grand Basileus Matthew W. Bullock elected as its first permanent chairman.
“Omega Dear,” was adopted as the official hymn in 1931. Charles R. Drew, professor of surgery, and Mercer Cook, professor of languages, both members of the Howard faculty, were the composers. Cook wrote the music and first stanza; Drew wrote the last two stanzas. By mid-1930, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Federal Council of Negro Affairs or “Black Cabinet,” which was an informal group of African-American public policy advisors who were organized to help the country emerge out of the depression. Omega men: Robert C. Weaver, Lawrence Oxley, Roscoe Brown, Frank Horne, William Hastie, J. Arthur Weiseger, Ted Poston, Campbell C. Johnson and William Trent were among those who served on the cabinet. Each of the founders graduated and went on to have distinguished careers in their chosen fields: Edgar Love became a bishop in the Methodist church; Oscar Cooper practiced medicine in Philadelphia for over 50 years; Frank Coleman became the chairman of the Department of Physics at Howard University and Ernest E. Just became a world-renowned biologist and the 1st recipient of the prestigious NAACP Spingarn Medal.