DISTRICT HISTORY

 

The Second District Conference, was founded in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1947 shortly after being transferred from the First District which included Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

When formed the District was composed of five states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When the newly formed District was transferred there were eleven chapters and in 1973 there were forty-four chapters (twelve undergraduate, three Intermediate, and twenty-nine Graduate Chapters).

During the period of 25 years since its transfer changing times and with the growth of Chapters, our distinguished Omega Men in the District assumed competence and proper in all the basic fields of endeavor. Many of the brothers grew in strength and wisdom and it produced growth in the various communities and the Second District became a stronger organization.

THE FIRST OFFICERS OF THE DISTRICT WERE: Brother Nathaniel Burrell, a Forty year Honoree was elected the first President of the District Conference. However, at the next District meeting in Syracuse, N.Y., this office was abolished because the District Parliamentarian ruled that this office did not exist constitutionally.

The late Brother Mifflin T. Gibbs of Mu Omega Chapter in Philadelphia, PA was elected the first District Representative. His duties and responsibilities were clearly defined in Omega's Constitution. The duties of the other District Officers were defined in the Second District By- Laws.

Brother Marion English, of Brooklyn, N.Y. a YMCA Secretary was the first elected DKR & S and he was succeeded by Brother National Burrell and he held this office for ten years. Brother Burrell was succeeded by James L. Murray and both were cited for their meritorious service to the District.

Brother Richard E. Carey, Esq., of Xi Phi Chapter and the former Grand Counsellor was the first District Counsellor. Brother Carey also wrote with the assistance of other brothers the first District By-Laws and Constitution.

Brother H. Albion Ferrell (Grand Chaplain) was elected as the first District Chaplain. His successor was William C. Jason, Jr. (deceased) of Mu Omega Chapter of Philadelphia, PA. Brother Jason later became Chairman of the Recommendations Committee and he served with distinction.

The late Brother Irving H. Selden of Epsilon Chapter of N.Y.C. was the founder and first Editor of the Omegan and it was the official Voice of the District. Following Brother Selden was Brother Felmon Motley who gave the Omegan an added distinction. Brother Wiliam Brazier succeeded Motley and Brazier gave the Omegan an added pictorial and editorial scope. Our District Directors have continued publication of the Omegan and its excellence and they have maintained its high quality and high standards of good journalism in publicizing the Second District and the Editors have contributed materials to our National publication, the Oracle.

All of the District Representatives have been Brothers with dedication, men of vision, character, and action. In succession, they escalated the programs of the District to a higher plateau of Omega Brotherhood each year. Time no space will permit us to list all of their names for the past 25 years; but we wish to report some of the most important activities and important events during their time and under their dynamic leadership. One of the most important events of the Annual District Conferences was the TALENT HUNT PROGRAMS WHICH HAS BEEN COMPETITIVE ON THE LOCAL AND DISTRICT LEVELS. The District has been able to send outstanding participants (winners in the District) to the various Grand Conclaves. The idea of a Talent Hunt Program was created due to the fact that many Black youth were unable to display their talents as other ethnic American youth in our communities.

Thus, we must salute Brother Alphonso J. Patterson, District Chairman. Brother Patterson also conducted the Martin Luther King Male Glee Club of the Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, N.Y. Because of the talent and leadership of Brother Patterson the Glee Club made a European Tour.

Another example of Omega Men's strength and an effort to move Omega on the front line of community involvement, Brother Samuel C. Coleman of Upsilon Tau Chapter in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Co-Chairman of the National Social Action Committee, devoted three years research and campaign to create a $10 million housing project in Brooklyn, N.Y. The housing project was named in the Honor of the late Langston Hughes, the Negro Poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Brother Hughes was an active member of Xi Phi Chapter in New York City. During the sixties, Mayor John V. Lindsay of N.Y.C., and with other officials and Brothers officiated at the dedication of the Langston Hughes Branch, Public Library in Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y.

Through his leadership Brother James S. Avery (at the urging of Brother William Jason) created the first Shirtsleeve Conference in September of 1963. The first Shirtsleeve Conference was held at the Palmer Inn, on Route #1 (near the current Hyatt Hotel) and the Brothers of Delta Upsilon of Trenton, N.J. were the host for several years. Because of its importance to new programs for the District other chapters became the host for the conference. During this early growth of the District, Brother Lovell "Skip" Sutherland organized and successfully held the program "Books and Education for Africa". Another District program that was fostered was the social action program named EDDAN. However, this program did not reach its full potential.

The late Brother Irving H. Selden of Epsilon Chapter of N.Y.C. was the founder and first Editor of the Omegan and it was the official Voice of the District. Following Brother Selden was Brother Felmon Motley who gave the Omegan an added distinction. Brother Wiliam Brazier succeeded Motley and Brazier gave the Omegan

Brothers and District Representatives Norman and Milton Johnson have encouraged this reassessment (Shirtsleeve Conference, workshops, finance seminars, Undergraduate Workshops, and forums) in Omega programming designed to give the maximum rise of the human resource skills we have in Omega on the District level.

When Brother George E. Meares, Past Grand Basileus, was the D.R., the District showed its first sign of its financial growth. Meares was the first D.R. to introduce the system of District dues which were to be paid by the Brothers of each Chapter to help defray the expenses of the District Conference programs and the District Officers. He also visited all of the Chapters and he was accompanied by the late Herschel (Rip) Day. Both brothers supervised all the chapter Initiations and committed the Ritual to memory. Meares and Day also sponsored a very impressive "Model Initiation Ceremony" at the District Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Meares was responsible for reactivating the Chapter of the University of Pennsylvania in late 1950.

The financial growth of the District was progressive during the administrations of D.R.'s Robert Johnson, Ermon Jones, E.W. Waters, James Avery (current Grand Basileus), James E. Grant, Norman and Milton Johnson. During his tenures D.R., Milton made the statement "The Second District Silver Anniversary Conference recognized that we are living in a SPACE AGE and a very confused society. America is at a crossroad."

If this is true, we hope that this Conference (1965) will help to find some of the answers and the methods by which to help solve these pressing problems, NOW.

Credit for this portion of Our History

  • Nathaniel Burrell and James Murray
  • Edward Taylor - Brooklyn, Past and Current DKRS and Historian
  • Charles Watkins - Pittsburgh
  • James C. Hardcastle - Delaware
  • Felmon Motley - Delaware

Yes, we did enter the "Space Age", and two of the African-American Astronautics were Omega Men and their ventures added pride to our growth. The space program was another step for mankind and recognition of racial abilities. The list of Brothers who can be acclaimed as achievers is endless. The list includes: Charles Drew, Benjamin Mays, Benjamin Hooks, William C. Jason, Richard Carey, Jeff Greenup, Theodore Randolph, Myron McGuire, Loftus Carson, Wiliam Hastie, Robert Gill, Lenwood Doger, James Pickney, Harry Denny, Richard Green, Othello Ashe, James S. Avery, Harry Denny, James Usry, Jesse Jackson, just to mention a few of the Brothers.

Since 1963, Chapters of the District have hosted the Annual Shirtsleeve Conferences that are held during the month of September. This important Conference allows the Brotherhood to brainstorm with each other and to create programs for the growth of the Second District. This conference as was stated earlier was the brainchild of James S. Avery (who became Grand Basileus) and at the urging of William C. Jason of Mu Omega. The early conference preparations were made by Seymour Hundley, J. Minor Sullivan, Charles Buford and James Murray, of Delta Upsilon Chapter. The ideas of a brainstorming working conference has served as the model for the Supreme Council and Grand Basileus in currently hosting the "National Leadership Conferences".

District Representatives have helped to create a healthy thrust for annual conferences by forming themes for each District Conference. This has stimulated discussion, growth, and motivation. The themes have some of our National Achievement Week Observances and from the brotherhood. Some of the themes were: Omega's Challenge in the 80's; Accent on Service Accountability: A Continuous Process; New Directions for Black America and our 1989 Theme of "The Black Family: Indispensable Resource".

Our District Representatives beginning in 1964 through 1990 have had the foresight to practice their personal expertise in business, public relations, and financial careers to enhance the District. Their experience helped the District to grow to a higher level with the advent of computers, networking, ability to motivate, and to travel across the USA gathering new ideas. As a result seminars and experts were attracted to assist Omega in the Second District. The D.R.'s also maintained a humble attitude in that the spirit that we must expand and still help the less unfortunate members in our communities. Plans were created to improve their status by sponsoring clinics, Health Fairs, Homes for the Aged, and by providing tutorial services.

Many of the District Talent Hunt winners and participants have appeared on T.V. Many winners have entered the entertainment and classical fields. Talent has no limitation for the Chapters have raised money for the United Negro College Fund. Theta Omicrom of Rochester has raised more than $40,000 and Mu Omega Has raised $25,000 for the UNCF. Other programs such as the NAACP annually receive financial support from Omega. Individual brothers have also contributed their and corporate monies to private and African-American institutions, such as: William Cosby, has given $20,000 to a college and $150,000 to support the 1991 Renn Relays Carnival that are held in Philadelphia, PA; Joseph Black, Vice President for the Greyhound Corporation has given Morgan State University a bus and $10,000. We must do much to remember our ARoots@ and to support education, our communities, and our youngsters. We, as Omega Men must always remember that we must lift others as we climb.

As we sit here at this Annual Conference site and look forward to the Grand Conclave in Detroit, we have a better understanding of the question asked in November, 1911: "Why We Are Here?" This question was written in the minutes of the First Conclave...WE ARE HERE TO FULFILL THE DESTINY THAT GOD AND OUR FOUNDERS SET FORTH NOVEMBER 17th, 1911 and by the FOUNDERS OF THE SECOND DISTRICT AS THEIR DREAMS FOR STRONG OMEGA UNFOLD.

In 2007, Omega and the Mighty Second District lost one of its most prolific figures. Brother Eddie Taylor served Omega since 1928. As a young member of one of the fraternity's oldest undergraduate chapters, Bro. Taylor went on to serve Omega in many capacities. Awarded for his persistence and ever resounding efforts, Bro. Taylor will be missed in the District. In September of 2007, the District Information Technology committee displayed a special page on the website commemorating Brother Taylor's service to Omega. We are stronger because of Bro. Taylor and his spirit will forever live in the Mighty Second District. This paragraph is added to the District History captured by Artifacts Committee.

We, the History and Artifacts Committee of the Second District take this opportunity to THANK YOU for reading this report and we invite you and your guests to visit and observe our History Display Room. This will give you an opportunity to observe some of the events that have contributed to the growth of the Second District, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

We thank the Trenton Chapter, Delta Upsilon Chapter for making the arrangements for the Display Room and services to this Committee. Most of all we thank our District Representative, Richard Johnson, for creating this committee and to the 1st Vice District Representative, George McKinney for this guidance and to David Wharton for making this document available to the conference.

 

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