The Historical Third District
This Third District History supplement was inspired by and is dedicated to Brother Dr. Vernon E. Johnson who wrote the history of the “Origin of the current Third District” and served as the District Representative for the Third District of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. during the years 1983-1986.
Brother Johnson’s history is the cornerstone of this project which is to complete what he started. For many years the Commonwealth of Virginia stood alone as the Fourth District. Our goal is to supplement what has been written by adding elements of what was deemed as the Third District which included Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. 1
For a moment lets step back in time to the Philadelphia Conclave in December 1922 when the Grand Chapter amended the Fraternity’s constitution to include the establishment of five geographical districts and the creation of the “District Representative” position. These District Representatives were selected by Grand Basileus J. Alston Atkins, and were to serve as his representative in the field under the supervision of the also newly formed office of the Vice Grand Basileus, which the chapters would subsequently ratify in 1923. 2
The first five District Representatives appointed were Brothers: Charles White for the New England States, Carter L. Marshall for the Mid Atlantic States which included what was to become the Third District, L.R. Hill for the Central States, William J. Faulkner for the Southern and George L. Vaughn for the Western States. 3
There are some facts in our history that still have to verified. For example in according to the 1934 ORACLEs the Third District was listed as Delaware, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia were in the Fourth District. Then in the September 1934 ORACLE, Ohio is listed as being in the Tenth District. In the June 1935 ORACLE, Pennsylvania and Ohio are listed as the Third District, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maryland are listed as the Fourth District with Virginia and West Virginia listed as the Eleventh District. In the March 1937 ORACLE which was published after the 1936 Conclave shows Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania as the Third District and Virginia alone as the Fourth District with Brother C. W. Seay as the District Representative.
At the 25th Annual Conclave held 28-30 December 1936, several proposals were suggested in regards to District and Traveling Representative. It is there Brother E. F. Corbett, requested that Virginia be made a separate district because it had problems different from those of the District of Columbia, Maryland and West Virginia.
On May 21, 1937 the then Third District (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania) held its first Annual Conference of the Third District in Pittsburgh, PA. with Brother C.R. Alexander presiding as the District Representative.
On December 30, 1938 the Supreme Council considered the redistricting of the Fraternity to a more logical geographical basis. However, in 1939 with the then Third District remaining the same Brother Wendell P. Grisby is listed as the District Representative.
At the Nashville Conclave in 1940 the Fraternity considered again to redistrict its chapters. In December of 1941 the Fraternity was redistricted into twelve districts.
In 1947, the Third District was list as Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia with the chartering of Psi Iota and Nu Upsilon Chapters and Brother Dr. Harry T. Penn served as the District Representative. In December of 1947 he would become the 19th Grand Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (Grand Chapter) Inc.
In 1947, Brother Thomas H. Shields became the Third District Representative of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (Grand Chapter) Inc.
At the Eighth District Conference on May 11-13, 1956 the Eight and Eleventh Districts merged to reform the Eight District and Brother Harvey V. McDaniel has the distinction of being the last Eleventh District Representative of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.,4 Maryland moved to the Second District leaving the Historical Third District as we know it today of being the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Third currently has 42 chapters and approximately 1500 members. A member of the district has held every Grand Office. We have had several members serve as Grand Basileus dating back to the Founders, men initiated at Alpha Chapter and Camp Howard. We are also proud of the eight undergraduates that served as 2nd Vice Grand Basileus. The District of Columbia has held 10 Grand Conclaves most notably were the 50th Golden Anniversary in 1961, 75th Diamond Anniversary in 1986 and the 100th Centennial Anniversary in 2011. Virginia has held only one Grand Conclave, the 20th, in Richmond in 1932.
Our most recent Grand Officers include Brother Jamin Powell, 40th 2nd Vice Grand Basileus, and Brother Curtis Baylor – Grand Keeper of Records and Seals and Brother Kenneth Brown was the Grand Marshall for the Centennial Conclave.
New chapters chartered since 1995 include Omicron Kappa Kappa “OKK” Chapter is 1996, Sigma Kappa Kappa Chapter in 1997, Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter in 2004, Zeta Mu Mu Chapter in 2008– and Sigma Mu Mu Chapter in 2011.
Both Pi Lambda Lambda and Sigma Mu Mu Chapters have won International Social Action Chapter of Year and Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter International Chapter of the Year in their early years. In 2014, Pi Nu Chapter won International Small Chapter and Social Action Chapter of the year. Eta Delta Delta Chapter won Undergraduate Chapter of the Year.
With the good, great or outstanding of the Third District being the birth place of OMEGA we are not surprised to learn of some of the ‘firsts” this historical district holds. One of course being the first fraternity founded on an historically black college or university. Brother John W. Love was the first member to serve as Vice Grand Basileus; In 1919 the first meeting to discuss an Interfraternity Conference was held at Howard University between the Omega Psi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternities5; In 1922 the first National Inter-Fraternity/Sorority Conference (became known as the Pan-Hellenic Council) was held in Washington D.C.6; In 1948, Alpha Chapter was the first undergraduate chapter to host a Third District Meeting. The District Marshal was Brother Floyd C. Kennedy7; Brother Curtis Baylor who served as our District Representative was the first undergraduate Life Member #50. Brothers Kenneth and Larry Brown were the first siblings to serve on the Supreme Council; Regrettably we also are known for having the first Brother to be expelled and reinstated.8
This only the beginning there is still much to do.
- Dreer, Herman Dr. – The History of the OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY A Brotherhood of Negro College Men 1911 to 1939, Washington D.C., the Fraternity, 1940.
- Dreer, Herman Dr. – The History of the OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY A Brotherhood of Negro College Men 1911 to 1939, Washington D.C., the Fraternity, 1940, page 75.
- The first five Districts -New England States-Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts Connecticut, and Rhode Island; Mid Atlantic States – New York, New Jersey. Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia; Central States – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin; Southern States – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi , Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas ; Western States – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
- The Omega Psi Phi ORACLE September 1956, page 13.
- Dreer, Herman Dr. – The History of the OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY A Brotherhood of Negro College Men 1911 to 1939, Washington D.C., the Fraternity, 1940, page 145.
- Dreer, Herman Dr. – The History of the OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY A Brotherhood of Negro College Men 1911 to 1939, Washington D.C., the Fraternity, 1940, page 146.
- Gill, Robert L .Dr. – The OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY AND THE MEN WHO MADE HISTORY A Concise History, The Official History of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. 1911-1963, Washington D.C., the Fraternity, 1940, page 45.
- Brother Lawrence B. Carey of Washington D.C. was reinstated at the 19th Conclave by unanimous vote of the delegates after declaring the reference to the case that expelled him at the Eleventh Conclave null and void while a member of Pi Omega Chapter. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, – OMEGA BULLETIN, Vol. IX, NO.1, Washington D.C., January 1931.
Eight members of the District have served as the Second Vice Grand Basileus, the highest undergraduate official in the fraternity. They are:
7th Howard C. Davis Alpha (1949) Howard University 1953-1954
11th William T. Johnson Nu Psi Virginia State University 1957-1958
22nd Christopher R.E.L. Dixon Alpha Howard University 1973-1974
24th K. Earl Ferguson Alpha (1974) Howard University 1976-1977
30th Alonzo L. Carter, Jr.
Gamma Epsilon (1982)
Hampton University 1986-1990
33rd Mark E. Jackson Delta Theta (1988) Southeastern University 1994-1996
35th Aaron E. Price
Omicron Gamma (1996)
University of D. C. 1998 – 2000
40th Jamin A. Powell Zeta (2003) Virginia Union 2008-2010
Prominent Omega Men of the Third District
1. Bishop Edgar A. Love (Founder, born September 10. 1891 – May 1, 1974 entered OMEGA Chapter) served as the Fraternity’s 1st and 3rd Grand Basileus; was a Chaplain during WWI; founding member of PHFM, Corinthian Lodge #18 in Washington, D.C. in 1915; as a Methodist minister he served various congregations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland.
2. Dr. Oscar J. Cooper (Founder, born May 20. 1890 – October 9, 1972 entered OMEGA Chapter) served as the Fraternity’s 1st Grand Keeper of Records, 2nd Grand Basileus and 2nd Grand Keeper of Seal; was a Biology student of Dr. Just. After completing medical school he moved to Philadelphia, PA, where practiced medicine for 50 years.
3. Professor Frank Coleman (Founder, born July 11. 1889 – February 24, 1967 entered OMEGA Chapter) served as the 1st Grand Keeper of Seal; served in the infantry during WWI; became Dean of Physics at Howard University.
4. Dr. Ernest E. Just (Founder, born August 14. 1883 – October 27, 1941 entered OMEGA Chapter) served a faculty advisor to our three undergraduate founders; was a world renowned scientist; received the 1st Spingarn Medal in 1915; earned his University of Chicago, Department of Philosophy, PhD in Zoology in 1916; was a prisoner-of-war, as a civilian, in France in 1940; featured on The Black Heritage Stamp in 1996;.
5. William “Kip” Ward – (Phi Nu Chapter 1979 currently in Sigma Mu Mu Chapter) served as the 1st commander of AFRICOM as a four star General.
6. Oscar Harrison – (Nu Psi Chapter 1948) 1st graduate of Virginia State Army ROTC to obtain the rank of Colonel (06).
7. Carter G. Woodson – (Honorary 1917) Father of the study of Black History.
8. L. Douglas Wilder – (Zeta Chapter 1950) became the 1st Black Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
9. Jeremiah A. Wright (Zeta 1960) pastor emeritus of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where he served as pastor to then Senator Barack H. Obama who became the 44th President of the United States of America.
10. Harry T. Penn – (Gamma Alpha Chapter 19–) well known dentist and businessman in the Roanoke VA. area; in 1948 became the 1st Black to serve on the Roanoke School Board; served District Representative and our 19th Grand Basileus.
11. H. Carl Moultrie – (Beta Chapter 1923) Fraternity’s 1st National Executive Secretary; served as a judge to the Superior Court of Washington, D.C.; has a Washington, D.C Superior Court
courthouse named in his honor; was given title of National Executive Secretary Emeritus/Executive Secretary Emeritus.
12. Frank “Frankie P” Patterson (Alpha Chapter 1962) Third District KRS emeritus; Chairman of the Founders Monument; Keeper of the Gate for Alpha Chapter’s membership process; between April 14, 1962 and, just before he took ill, February 25, 2016 we had a saying “You’re not from the Third District if you don’t know Frankie P”.
13. Sampson P. Boozer Jr. (Alpha Chapter 1971) a student at Howard university studying Architect designed the Founders Monument.
14. Colonel Frederick D. Gregory (Alpha Omega Chapter 1959) astronaut and Commander of the ATLANTIS space flight mission; served as NASA Acting Administrator in 2005; nephew of Dr. Charles Drew.
15. Kent Amos (Psi Epsilon Chapter 1967 currently in Alpha Omega Chapter) served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam; he founded the Urban Family Institute in 1991; in 1994, he founded Kids House; in 1998 he founded the Community Academy Public Charter School, where he served as principal and CEO; In 2002, he was ordained a deacon at Washington’s Shiloh Baptist Church; he also served as the chairman of the Shiloh Community Development Corporation.
16. Togo D. West Jr. (Kappa Psi Chapter 1966) served in the U.S. Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps 1965-1973; from 1977-1981 he served as General Counsel of the Navy, Special Assistant to the Secretary and to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and General Counsel of the Department of Defense; in 1993, he became the Secretary of the Army.
17. Will Mercer Cook (Alpha Chapter 19–) served as the 3rd U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, the 1st U.S. Ambassador to Gambia and the 2nd U.S. Ambassador to Niger; he also taught romance languages at Howard University, and Harvard University.
18. Robert W. Fairchild (Eta Sigma Chapter 1964 currently with Alpha Omega Chapter) charter member of Gamma Xi Chapter (Virginia Beach, VA.); retired U. S. Army Colonel; 1st Black U.S. Army Staff Bands Officer; Adjutant General, Military District of Washington (had the responsibility of planning all Presidential funerals); served as District Representative and Grand KRS; in October 1995, he closed the doors of the National Shrine.
19. H. Patrick Swygert (Alpha Chapter 1964) in 1995 he became President of Howard University; n 1979, he served as special counsel to the Merit Systems Protection Board. From 1977 to 1979, he was general counsel to the U.S. Civil Service Commission; and also served as law clerk to Chief Judge William H. Hastie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
20. Rohulamin Quander (Alpha Chapter 1964) retired judge and family historian; author of several books the most recent 50+ Omega Inspired Years, Tracing an Omega Legacy to 1931.