Omega Psi Phi

Omega Psi Phi
Founded November 17, 1911 (1911-11-17)
Howard University
Type Social
Emphasis Service
Scope International
Motto Friendship is Essential to the Soul
Colors      Royal Purple
     Old Gold
Symbol Lamp
Publication Oracle
Chapters 750+
Nickname Omegas, Sons of Blood and Thunder, Omega Men, Da Bruhz, Ques, Que Dogs
Headquarters 3951 Snapfinger Parkway
Decatur, Georgia
United States of America
Homepage Omega Psi Phi Fraternity website
Omega Psi Phi Founders
The Alpha chapter of Omega Psi Phi in 1911.

Omega Psi Phi (ΩΨΦ) is an international fraternity with over 750 undergraduate and graduate chapters. The fraternity was founded on November 17, 1911 by three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman, and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Omega Psi Phi is the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university.[1]


Since its founding in 1911, Omega Psi Phi's stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Throughout the world, many notable members are recognized as leaders in the arts, academics, athletics, entertainment, business, civil rights, education, government, and science fields. A few notable members include Bill Cosby, Benjamin Mays, Bayard Rustin, Langston Hughes, Roy Wilkins, Benjamin Hooks, Vernon Jordan, Dr. Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Dr. Mack King Carter, William H. Hastie (U.S. Virgin Islands) and L. Douglas Wilder, Representative James Clyburn, Earl Graves, Tom Joyner, Charles Bolden, Ronald McNair, General William "Kip" Ward, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Shammond Williams, Vince Carter, Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley, Ray Lewis, Stephen A. Smith, and numerous presidents of colleges and universities. Over 250,000 men have been initiated into Omega Psi Phi throughout the United States, Bermuda, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, South Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany, and Kuwait.[1] On the 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, six players and GM Ozzie Newsome are members.[2]

In 1924, at the urging of fraternity member Carter G. Woodson, the fraternity launched Negro History and Literature Week in an effort to publicize the growing body of scholarship on African-American history.[3] Encouraged by public interest, the event was renamed "Negro Achievement Week" in 1925 and given an expanded national presence in 1926 by Woodson's Association for the Study of Negro Life as "Negro History Week."[3] Expanded to the full month of February from 1976, this event continues today as Black History Month.

Since 1945, the fraternity has undertaken a National Social Action Program to meet the needs of African Americans in the areas of health, housing, civil rights, and education. Omega Psi Phi has been a patron of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) since 1955, providing an annual gift of $350,000,000 to the program.

Omega Psi Phi is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), which is composed of nine predominately African-American Greek-letter sororities and fraternities that promote interaction through forums, meetings, and other media for the exchange of information, and engage in cooperative programming and initiatives throughout the world. The (NPHC) currently represents over 2.5 million members.[4]

Centennial Celebration

Omega Psi Phi celebrated its centennial during the week of July 27–31, 2011 in Washington D.C., becoming distinguished as only the third African-American collegiate fraternity to reach the century mark.[4] The Centennial Celebration recognized the impact of the Fraternity in communities over the past 100 years, honored Omega Men for achievement in all walks of life, reiterated Omega Psi Phi's commitment to providing unparalleled community service and scholarship, and charted the Fraternity's future activities.

Internationally Mandated Programs

Each Chapter administers Internationally Mandated Programs every year:[5]

Achievement Week – A week in November that seeks to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions to society. During the Achievement Week, a High School Essay Contest is held and the winner usually receives a scholarship award.

Omega Psi Phi chapter members marching in an Independence Day parade, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Scholarship – The Charles R. Drew Scholarship Program encourages academic progress among the organization's undergraduate members. A portion of the fraternity's budget is designated for the Charles R. Drew Scholarship Commission, which awards scholarships to members and non-members.

Social Action Programs – All chapters are required to participate in programs that uplift their society. Many participate in activities like: voter registration, illiteracy programs, mentoring programs, fundraisers, and charitable organizations such as American Diabetes Association, United Way, and the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation.

Omega Psi Phi chapter members at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Talent Hunt Program – Each chapter is required to hold a yearly talent contest, to encourage young people to expose themselves to the Performing Arts. Individuals who win these talent contests receive an award, such as a scholarship.

Memorial Service – March 12 is Omega Psi Phi Memorial Day. Every chapter of the Fraternity performs a ritualistic memorial service to remember members who have died.

Reclamation and Retention – This program is an effort to encourage inactive members to become fully active and participate in the fraternity's programs.

College Endowment Funds – The fraternity donates thousands of dollars to Historically Black Colleges and Universities each year.

Health Initiatives – Chapters are required to coordinate programs that will encourage good health practices. Programs that members involve themselves in include HIV/AIDS awareness, blood drives, prostate cancer awareness, and sickle cell anemia awareness programs.

Voter Registration, Education and Motivation – Coordination activities that promote voter registration and mobilization.

NAACP – A Life Membership at Large in the NAACP is required by all chapters and districts.[6]


Omega Psi Phi recognizes undergraduate and graduate membership. College students must be working toward a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution, have at least 31 semester credits, and maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. For the graduate chapter, an applicant must already possess a bachelor's degree.[7] The fraternity grants honorary membership to men who have contributed to society in a positive way on a national or international level. For example, Charles Young (March 12, 1864 – January 2, 1922) was the third African American graduate of West Point, the first black U.S. national park superintendent, the first African American military attaché, and the highest ranking black officer (Colonel) in the United States Army until his death in 1922.

National Pan-Hellenic Council membership

In 1930, Omega Psi Phi became one of 5 founding members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Today, the NPHC is composed of nine international black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities and promotes interaction through forums, meetings, and other mediums for the exchange of information, and engages in cooperative programming and initiatives through various activities and functions.[8]

Grand Basileus

Omega Psi Phi shoulder bag
Name Order Time in Office Ref.
Edgar Amos Love 1st Grand Basileus 1911–1912 [9][10]
Oscar J. Cooper 2nd Grand Basileus 1912–1913 [9][10]
Edgar Amos Love 3rd Grand Basileus 1913–1915 [9][10]
George E. Hall 4th Grand Basileus 1915–1916 [9][10]
James C. McMorries 5th Grand Basileus 1916–1917 [9][10]
Clarence F. Holmes 6th Grand Basileus 1917–1918 [9][10][11]
Raymond G. Robinson 7th Grand Basileus 1918–1920 [9][10][12]
Harold H. Thomas 8th Grand Basileus 1920–1921 [9][10]
J. Alston Atkins 9th Grand Basileus 1921–1924 [10][13][14]
John W. Love 10th Grand Basileus 1924[a] [10]
George L. Vaughn 11th Grand Basileus 1924–1926 [10][13]
Julius S. McClain 12th Grand Basileus 1926–1929 [10][12][15]
Matthew W. Bullock 13th Grand Basileus 1929–1932 [10]
Lawrence A. Oxley 14th Grand Basileus 1932–1935 [10][16]
William Baugh 15th Grand Basileus 1935–1937 [10][17]
Albert W. Dent 16th Grand Basileus 1937–1940 [10][17]
Z. Alexander Looby 17th Grand Basileus 1940–1945 [10][13][18]
Campbell C. Johnson 18th Grand Basileus 1945–1947 [10]
Harry Penn 19th Grand Basileus 1947–1949 [10]
Milo C. Murray 20th Grand Basileus 1949–1951 [10]
Grant Reynolds 21st Grand Basileus 1951–1953 [10][13][19]
John F. Potts 22nd Grand Basileus 1953–1955 [10][20][21]
Herbert E. Tucker, Jr. 23rd Grand Basileus 1955–1958 [10][22]
I. Gregory Newton 24th Grand Basileus 1958–1961 [10][16]
Cary D. Jacobs 25th Grand Basileus 1961–1964 [10][23]
George E. Meares 26th Grand Basileus 1964–1967 [13]
Ellis F. Corbett 27th Grand Basileus 1967–1970 [24]
James Avery 28th Grand Basileus 1970–1973 [23][25]
Marion Garnett 29th Grand Basileus 1973–1976 [26][27][28]
Dr. Edward Braynon, Jr. 30th Grand Basileus 1976–1979 [25][29][30][31]
Burnel E. Coulon 31st Grand Basileus 1979−1982 [25][30][32]
Dr. L. Benjamin Livingston 32nd Grand Basileus 1982–1984 [33]
Dr. Moses C. Norman 33rd Grand Basileus 1984–1990 [25][30][34]
Dr. C. Tyrone Gilmore, Sr 34th Grand Basileus 1990–1994 [9][25][30]
Dr. Dorsey Miller 35th Grand Basileus 1994–1998 [9][25][30]
Lloyd Jordan, Esq. 36th Grand Basileus 1998–2002 [9][25][30]
George H. Grace 37th Grand Basileus 2002–2006 [25]
Warren G. Lee 38th Grand Basileus 2006–2010 [30]
Dr. Andrew Ray 39th Grand Basileus 2010–2014 [35]
Antonio Knox 40th Grand Basileus 2014–present .

a. Finished unexpired term of Atkins[10]

List of Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclaves

Notable hazing incidents and controversies

In 1977, Robert Brazile, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, died at a fraternity house meeting due to injuries and beatings he sustained while pledging the fraternity.[36]

In 1978, Nathaniel Swimson, a student at North Carolina Central University, died during an off-campus initiation activity. He was asked to run several miles before he collapsed and died.[36]

In 1983, Vann Watts, a student at Tennessee State University, died of an alcohol overdose following an initiation party. It was reported that prior to his death, he was severely beaten and verbally assaulted by fraternity members.[37]

In 1984, a Hampton University student was killed during an Omega Psi Phi ritual. The family of the deceased student settled with the fraternity for an undisclosed amount as a result of his wrongful death.[38]

In 1986, Thomas Harold, a student at Lamar University, died as a result of running miles on Lamar's track as part of a pledging task.[39][40]

In 1993, 24 Omegas were arrested for making pledges from University of Maryland at College Park eat vomit and dog biscuits, dropping hot wax on their necks, and beating them so badly that they needed medical attention.[41]

In 2001, Joseph T. Green, a student at Tennessee State University, died as result of an asthma attack he developed from being asked to run long distances while pledging. In 2002, his family filed a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit against the men of Omega Psi Phi Incorporated.[42] [43]

In 2009, a former pledge at the University of Houston (UH) settled with the fraternity for an undisclosed amount after being hit with a baseball bat, wood board, and TV antenna while pledging. The UH student wanted to join the fraternity because his father was a member. The chapter was placed on suspension following this incident. [44]

In 2014, the chapter at Valdosta State University was banned from campus until at least August 2022 due to severe hazing and violating the school's code of conduct.[45]

In 2015, six Omega Psi Phi members at Johnson C. Smith University were arrested and charged with assault for severely beating pledges over a two-month span.[46]

In 2015, four Omega Psi Phi members at Saginaw Valley State University were arrested and charged for striking pledges with open hands and paddles. One known pledge sustained a serious injury after losing consciousness one night pledging.[47]

In 2015, a Florida Atlantic University student reported to the police she was gang-raped at an Omega Psi Phi "Oil Spill" step show after party. Inside the party, she stated she was suddenly and forcefully pulled behind curtains and raped by a group of men in a dark area.[48]

In 2016, the fraternity at Florida State University was suspended for severely abusing pledges and violating the university's code of conduct.[49] Criminal charges are pending for members of the fraternity. That same year, the Cornell University chapter hosted a party to which several hundred people attended. At the end of the night, two visitors were stabbed and one died as they left, amidst several fights that broke out.[50]

Despite Omega Psi Phi taking an official stance against hazing and disorderly conduct, the fraternity continues to be plagued with many lawsuits and serious consequences due to mistreatment of potential members and fraternity misconduct.[51][52]

"Unofficial" practices

Like many fraternal organizations, Omega Psi Phi has a rich tradition of practices. While some traditions are naturally secret, many are freely expressed in public. A popular one is referring to members as "Que Dogs" or "Ques". Another is the practice of members voluntarily undergoing branding of the letters, or variations and designs based on them (such as two linked Omega symbols), on their skin. The brands often are displayed in public as a matter of pride; some prospects first learn of the fraternity by seeing members bearing brands.[53]

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Omega Psi Phi.
  1. 1 2 "Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  2. The Baltimore Ravens brotherhood within a brotherhood -
  3. 1 2 Daryl Michael Scott, "The Origins of Black History Month," Association for the Study of African American Life and History, 2011,
  4. 1 2 Jenkins,, Chris L. (27 July 2011). "Omega Psi Phi brothers celebrate centennial at D.C. birthplace". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  5. "Internationally Mandated Programs". Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  6. "Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Official Website". OPPF. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  7. "Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Official Membership Page". OPPFMembership. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  8. "National Pan-Hellenic Council Aboutpage". NPHC. Retrieved 2006-08-15.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Omega History
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Robert L. Gill, The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Men Who Made Its History; A Concise History;, The Official History of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., 1911–1961, pp. 83–84
  11. About Charles F. Holmes
  12. 1 2 Epsilon history
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Legendary 5th History
  14. My virtual paper entry
  15. Rho Phi chapter history
  16. 1 2 Accomplishments of Beta Phi Brothers
  17. 1 2 9th District History
  18. Omega Psi Phi – John H. Williams Historical Museum
  19. Cincinnati Ques
  20. "Black Sororities and Fraternities". Ebony. Johnson: 113. September 1993. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  21. "Omicron Chi History". Omega Psi Phi, Omicron Chi chapter. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  22. Omega Bulletin Spring 2007
  23. 1 2 Omega Life Membership
  24. Lambda Omega chapter history
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Omega's Clarion Call Summer 2007
  26. Eta Nu History
  27. Alpha Omega Chapter History
  28. University of Florida Yearbook 2003 Omega Psi Phi
  29. 7th district history
  30. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 74th Grand Conclave Report
  31. History of Zeta Phi chapter
  32. Psi Alpha Alpha History
  33. Sigma Alpha Ques, about us
  34. Eta Omega milestones
  35. Message from the Grand Basileus
  36. 1 2
  53. Sandra Mizumoto Posey (2004). "Burning Messages". Voices. New York Folklore Society. 30 (Fall–Winter). Retrieved 14 April 2011.

External links

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