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In the annals of American collegiate history, the founding of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. marks a seminal moment not just for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), but for the African American community at large. On a crisp November evening in 1911, the hallowed grounds of Howard University bore witness to the birth of the first international fraternal organization conceived in the nurturing womb of a historically black college. This monumental event took place within the walls of the Science Building, later to be known as Thirkield Hall, in the heart of Washington, D.C.


The torchbearers of this nascent brotherhood were three astute undergraduates—Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper, and Frank Coleman. They were joined by their faculty adviser, Ernest Everett Just, a man whose wisdom and guidance would prove instrumental in shaping the fraternity's early direction. Together, they sowed the seeds of an organization that would grow to embody the ideals of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift.


The name Omega Psi Phi was inspired by the Greek phrase meaning “Friendship is essential to the soul,” encapsulating the essence of the fraternity's ethos. This profound motto laid the foundation for the cardinal principles that would guide the fraternity's members in their personal and collective endeavors.


In the wake of its founding, Edgar A. Love was elected as the first Grand Basileus (National President), a role in which he was joined by Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman as the Grand Keeper of the Records (National Secretary) and Grand Keeper of Seals (National Treasurer), respectively. The fraternity's charter membership comprised eleven undergraduate men, a testament to the appeal and vision of Omega Psi Phi from its earliest days.


By December 15, 1911, the Alpha chapter was officially organized with fourteen charter members, solidifying the fraternity's presence on Howard University's campus. The following year, under the leadership of Brother Cooper as the fraternity’s second Grand Basileus, Omega Psi Phi began to expand its horizon, exploring the establishment of a second chapter at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.


The fraternity's journey was not without its challenges. Initially, Howard University hesitated to recognize Omega Psi Phi as a national organization, leading to a period of operation without official sanction. However, steadfast in their purpose and vision, the fraternity's leaders refused to accept a limited acknowledgment, resulting in the university withdrawing its opposition in 1914. That same year, the Beta chapter was chartered at Lincoln University, marking the beginning of Omega Psi Phi's national expansion.


Incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on October 28, 1914, Omega Psi Phi continued to grow, both in stature and influence. The fraternity played a pivotal role during World War I, with several brothers, including founders Coleman and Love, among the first class of black soldiers to graduate from Camp Fort Des Moines.


The fraternity also made significant contributions to the cultural and intellectual fabric of the African American community. In 1919, the first edition of the Oracle was published, providing a platform for discourse and expression. This period also saw the establishment of National Achievement Week, an initiative inspired by Carter G. Woodson to promote the study of African American life and history.


As Omega Psi Phi entered its second decade, it had established itself as a formidable force of men dedicated to upholding its cardinal principles. Through its commitment to brotherhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift, Omega Psi Phi has left an indelible mark on the American societal landscape, fostering a legacy of leadership and service that continues to inspire generations.

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