Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. History Link 

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History of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

 

The Chartering & Late 1940s

 

In the Fall of 1946, Omega Brothers who were also Professors at Hampton Institute (now University) began to explore bringing Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s presence to the Hampton, VA community.  A few months later, on March 20, 1947, Zeta Omicron Chapter was chartered in the city of Hampton, VA. Weeks before on February 12, 1947, those same Professors chartered Gamma Epsilon, the undergraduate chapter at Hampton Institute. In the late forties, the chapter meetings were held in the Dupont building on Hampton Institute’s campus and at the homes of chapter members.

 

The charter members were Brothers:

  1. Dr. Fred Inge, Chairman of the Biology Dept., Hampton Institute

  2. Dr. Don A. Davis, Comptroller in the business department at Hampton Institute. He was also a freshman adviser.

  3. Herman G. Cook, biology professor, Hampton Institute

  4. Mr. Arthur Burke, english professor, Hampton Institute

  5. Colonel William H. Moses, Commander of ROTC, Hampton Institute

 

Upon its birth, Zeta Omicron brothers immediately began to carry out its duties.  Given the issues of the time and the heavy military presence in the Hampton community, the chapter's goals and objectives were centered on confronting discrimination in the military and in education.  Throughout the years the Fraternity has been on the forefront of the struggle.  

 

During this period of turmoil, the charter members set out to increase its membership by recruiting men willing to work to achieve the fraternity's objectives. More broadly than just in the military, civil rights were an ongoing struggle for the nation as well as the city. Many brothers pledged their allegiance to this cause by attending and participating in meetings held by the NAACP. In 1948, Brother Dr. Fred Inge encouraged as many brothers as possible to become members of the Urban League, which was another organization whose mission was to remove racial discrimination. It was during this time that one of Omega's notable men, Brother Langston Hughes, visited Hampton Institute to speak on racial discrimination.  The members of Zeta Omicron embraced him and decided to support his cause while in Hampton roads and fellowship together before Brother Hughes returned home.

 

In 1949, members of the community came to Zeta Omicron asking for their support in keeping the Hampton Community Center open. The grounds were in poor condition and the city threatened to close the center down. The members of the chapter donated money to the community center and also aided in repairing the grounds.

 
The Fifties & Sixties

As membership grew, meetings were held at the Beau Brummell Club, Les Hommes, Hampton Institute, and at the homes of chapter members. Several notable achievements occurred in this period, including:

  • Charter member Brother William H. Moses was promoted to a full Colonel (1951)

  • Zeta Omicron provided seminars to area high schools and Hampton Institute. The subject was "Democracy Now or Ever" (1952)

  • The NAACP solicited the aid of the Zeta Omicron Chapter for a program called Goodwill Greeks and Brother John Wheeler was selected as Omega Man of the Year (1953)

  • Brother Riley was selected as Omega Man of the Year and Brother Lawrence Barbour was selected as Outstanding Citizen of the Year (1956)

  • Brother Ace Livas started the Omega Choir (1957)

  • Brother Russell won the Omega Man of the Year award and Mr. George Clarke won Outstanding Citizen of the Year award (1960)

  • Brother Oliver Hill won the Omega Man of the Year award and
    Mr. James Meredith was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year (1962)
     

The Seventies


In the late seventies the chapter decided to expand its reach and sponsor children at the Children’s Home in Petersburg, VA.  Brother Robert M. Screen published his book entitled “With my Face to the Rising Sun” in 1977. That same year Brother Screen won the Omega Man of the Year award and Mr. Robert L. Satcher won the Citizen of the Year award. It was also in this time frame that the chapter decided to explore purchasing a fraternity house.  

 

In 1978 the chapter started its first newsletter called "The Chronicle". Also, in 1978, Brother John Lewis won the Omega Man of the Year award and Mr. Henry L. Gibson was named the Citizen of the Year. A year later, the community came to the chapter asking for assistance in saving Pembroke High School. The chapter formed a committee to support the effort but was unsuccessful.
 

From its inception, education was an important part of Zeta Omicron’s legacy.  This continued as Brother Dr. William Harvey was selected as the President of Hampton Institute.  Brother John Watkins was selected by Change Magazine as one of the top 100 young leaders in Higher Education in the United States.  Also, Brother Col. William H. Moses wrote an article in the Newsweek column, "My turn at 30".
 

On August 7, 1979, the two-year exploration for a fraternity house resulted in the purchase of Zeta Omicron’s first fraternity house at 825 Pocahontas Place, Hampton, Va. 23661.  The chapter also co-hosted the District meeting in 1979.

 

The Eighties & Nineties

As Zeta Omicron entered is forth decade of service, several notable achievements occurred.

 

  • In 1980, Brother J.W. Lewis was recognized by St. Cyprian Church for 32 years of continuous service as Lay Reader Emeritus. A Silver Cross replica of the Bishop's Cross was presented. Also, Brother T. Ralphe Bunche was elected to the Hampton City School Board

  • In 1981, the chapter decided to sell the fraternity house and began having their meetings at Our World Club and at Beau Brummell Club

  • In 1983, Brother Dave Grant was elected as the Area Supervisor of Eastern Area 3, a position he dutifully served until 1995

  • In 1984, Brother Robert Lee III was recognized as the “National Omega Man of the Year” at the 63rd Grand Conclave in Louisville, KY.  Brother Lee was also recognized as the 1984 Third District “Omega Man of the Year”

  • In 1987, Brother Dave Grant was the elected as President of the Pan-Hellenic counsel

  • Zeta Omicron hosted the first Mardi Gras in the old Craftsman Hall building in Hampton VA during the 1980s. Brothers Gerald Eatman and Ralph Ransom were the initial co-chairman. A decade later, Zeta Omicron combined its efforts with neighboring chapters Alpha Alpha and Kappa Iota Iota to form what is known today as the Tri-Chapter Mardi Gras.  The Tri-Chapter Mardi Gras remains one of Zeta Omicron’s main fundraisers for scholarships.

  • In 1993, the Adopt-A- Street program, where the chapter quarterly cleans up a street in the city of Hampton, was founded by Brother Myron McDaniels

  • In the mid – 1990’s, the chapter, with the assistance from their spouses, conducted after-school tutoring at Y.H. Thomas Community Center.

  • In 1997, the Tribute to Fatherhood breakfast program was founded by Brother Melvin McDaniels.  The program is designed to emphasize the positive impact and role of fathers in the family unit.
     

The 2000s

 

In 2000, the chapter started hosting meetings at Les Hommes Social Club.  Items of note in this period include:

 

  • In 2001, Brother Joseph Peterson was awarded the “Superior Service Award” at the Third District Meeting in Tyson’s Corner Virginia.

  • In 2003, Brother Burnie served as District Marshall as the chapter co-hosted the Third District meeting in Hampton with Alpha Alpha and Kappa Iota Iota chapters.

  • In 2017, Brother Milton Foster was elected as Eastern Area III Supervisor, a position he maintains today.

 

Zeta Omicron continues its work in the community by uplifting families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  This service project started in the 90s and has remained a staple of chapter programming to this day.  On average, Zeta Omicron feeds 50 families for each holiday.  The chapter also utilizes the Virginia Foodbank to provide food to hundreds of families as well.

 

The chapter continues to place an emphasis on education in Hampton by holding various fundraising events to help raise money for scholarships, which are provided to qualified high school seniors.  To date, fundraising events like the Mari Gras have raised in excess of $100,000 for scholarship support. The Summer Day party, started in 2009, and the Jingle Jam party, started in 2015, have additionally raised in excess of $50,000.  These major fundraising events help deliver annual scholarships to 8 to 10 well deserving high school seniors per year.  Since 2012 alone, Zeta Omicron has delivered 85 scholarships valued at $80,000.

 

As mentioned in the 1990s section, Zeta Omicron sponsored an Adopt – A – Spot area on North Armistead Avenue between Mercury Blvd and the Home Depot.  However, in 2017, due to considerable chapter member safety concerns, the chapter relocated its community cleanup efforts to Marcella Road between Coliseum Drive adjacent to Cooper Elementary School.  The chapter cleans this area several times throughout the calendar year.

 

 

Today, in addition to our scholarships program, the Zeta Omicron chapter promotes education through monetary donations to organization such as the UNCF and the NAACP.  The chapter actively participates in voter registration; political discussions that directly affect the community such as redistricting and chartering of schools; and youth mentoring programs. Also, the chapter's Youth Leadership conference helps 
graduating students understand the importance of attending college and where to apply for scholarships.  

 

In summary, for 75 years the brothers of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. have been constantly working toward the goals and objectives of the founders. It is no wonder that the community has always relied on the men of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. in their time of need. Men of like attainment and similar ideas, committed to a cause.  The chapter's historical mission of removing discrimination from the education and military systems has been the grounding force of our efforts and continues today as a distinguished voice in the Hampton Roads community.