The Founders of Omega
Dr. Ernest Everett Just
(August 14, 1883 - October 27, 1941)
Dr. Frank Coleman
(July 11, 1889 - February 24, 1967)
Dr. Oscar James Cooper
(May 20, 1890 - October 11, 1972)
Bishop Edgar Amos Love
(September 10, 1891 - May 1, 1974)
The History of Omega
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 Professor Ernest E. 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. Bro. Love became the first Grand
Basileus (National President). Bro. Cooper and Bro. Coleman were selected Grand Keeper of
Records (National Secretary) and Grand Keeper 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. Bros. Love, Cooper and Coleman were elected as the chapter's first Basileus, Keeper of Records, and Keeper of Seals, respectively.
Oscar Cooper became the fraternity's second Grand Basileus in 1912. Cooper authorized the investigation of a proposed second chapter at Lincoln University, PA. 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.
In 1922, Grand Basileus J. Alston Atkins appointed the first District Representatives. Today, such officers are elected annually by membership of each District. Also in 1922, the office of Vice-Grand Basileus was created. The Grand Keeper of Records became the Grand Keeper of the Records and Seal. The first Omega Bulletin was published in 1928.
Beginning in the '50s, the thrust was social change. Thousands of Omega men in every area of
the country are actively involved in the fight to eliminate racial discrimination. The 1955 Los Angeles
Grand Conclave initiated a program whereby each graduate chapter would purchase a Life
Membership from the NAACP. Also, Omega Psi Phi took an official position against hazing as a
fraternity activity. This anti-hazing position remains in effect today, and the policy
banning hazing has been strengthened.
Omega continues to flourish, largely because Founders Love, Cooper, Coleman and Just were men of the very highest ideals and intellect. The Founders selected and attracted men of similar ideals and characteristics. It is not by accident that many of America's great black men are Omega Men. To date, there are very few Americans whose lives have not been touched by a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Omega has a rich heritage to be protected, celebrated and enhanced.