The Birth of Omega Psi Phi

On Friday  evening, November 17, 1911, three Howard University undergraduate  students, with the assistance of their faculty adviser, gave birth to  the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. This event occurred in the office of  biology Professor Ernest Just, the faculty adviser, in the Science Hall  (now known as Thirkield Hall). The three liberal arts students were  Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman. From the initials of  the Greek phrase meaning "friendship is essential to the soul," the name  Omega Psi Phi was derived. The phrase was selected as the motto.  Manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift were adopted as cardinal  principles. A decision was made regarding the design for the pin and  emblem, and thus ended the first meeting of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity  .

The next meeting was conducted on November 23, 1911. Edgar  Love became the first Grand Basileus (National President). Cooper and  Coleman were selected Grandkeeper of the Records (National Secretary)  and Grandkeeper of Seals (National Treasurer), respectively. Eleven  Howard University undergraduate men were selected as charter members.

Alpha  Chapter was organized with fourteen charter members on December 15,  1911. Love, Cooper and Coleman were elected the chapter's first  Basileus, Keeper of Records, and Keeper of Seals, respectively. On March  8, 1912, the previously submitted fraternity constitution was rejected  by the Howard University Faculty Council. The Faculty Council proposed  to accept the fraternity as a local but not a national organization. The  fraternity refused acceptance as a strictly local organization.

Oscar  Cooper became the fraternity's second Grand Basileus in 1912. Cooper  authorized the investigation of a proposed second chapter at Lincoln  University, Pennsylvania. Edgar Love was elected as the third Grand  Basileus in 1912 and served until 1915. In 1914, Howard University  withdrew its opposition, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was  incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on October 28,  1914. Beta Chapter at Lincoln University was chartered in February,  1914. George E. Hall, the fourth Grand Basileus, had been initiated at  Alpha Chapter in 1914. Grand Basileus Hall authorized the establishment  of Gamma Chapter in Boston, Massachusetts. However, the chapter was  eventually established during the administration of the fifth Grand  Basileus, James C. McMorries. During the administration of the sixth  Grand Basileus, Clarence F. Holmes, the fraternity's first official  hymn, "Omega Men Draw Nigh", was written by Otto Bohannon. Raymond G.  Robinson, the seventh Grand Basileus, established Delta Chapter in  Nashville, Tennessee in 1919. Robinson left office in 1920 with a total  of ten chapters in operation. Stanley Douglas served as Editor of the  first Oracle published in the spring of 1919. Harold K. Thomas, the  eighth Grand Basileus, was elected at the 1920 Nashville Grand Conclave.  It was at this Conclave that Carter G. Woodson inspired the  establishment of National Achievement Week to promote the study of Negro  life and history. The 1921 Atlanta Grand Conclave brought to an end the  first decade of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.