Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was founded by three African-American men studying the liberal arts at Howard University on November 17, 1911.
By 1911, three fraternal organizations had been founded for and by African-American students at colleges across the country: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Cornell University, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Howard University, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity at Indiana University.
Once again, Howard University was to become the site of the founding of another black Greek letter organization (BGLO,) which would become known as Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
History of Omega Psi Phi
Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper, and Frank Coleman met in biology professor Ernest E. Just’s office on the night of November 17, 1911, and found Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The three undergraduate students, at this first meeting, decided on a motto, cardinal principles, and designed an emblem and pin.
Six days later, the three men elected Love as the organization’s first president and chose eleven undergraduate men as charter members of the first chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The fourteen charter members signed the chapter’s charter on December 15, 1911.
During its early years, Omega Psi Phi struggled to be recognized as a blooming national organization. After submitting the original constitution to Howard University’s faculty council, the council opposed recognizing Omega Psi Phi as a national organization.
From there, members began to investigate opening a second chapter of Omega Psi Phi at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The Lincoln University chapter opened in February of 1914.
Later that year, in October 1914, Howard University’s faculty council withdrew its opposition to Omega Psi Phi being a national organization. The fraternity then recieved its articles of incorporation in Washington, D.C. on October 28, 1914.
In 1930, representatives from Omega Psi Phi met with members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and established the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC.) This organization would unite what would become known as the “Divine 9,” or America’s nine national and international historically African-American sororities and fraternities.
In the 1950s, members of Omega Psi Phi began looking at social change. Each graduate chapter was asked to purchase a lifetime membership from the NAACP, and between 1955 and 1959, the fraternity contributed almost $40,000 to the NAACP. It was also during the 1950s that Omega Psi Phi banned hazing from all fraternity activities and tightened punishments for those who were found to participate in hazing activities.
Omega Psi Phi Today
Today, Omega Psi Phi supports over 700 undergraduate, graduate, and alumni chapters in the United States and around the world. Omega Psi Phi has also been nicknamed the Omegas or Ques, and members are also known as Omega Men.
As its social initiative, Omega Psi Phi has developed a program called the National Social Action Program, which works to meet the needs of African-American men and women in the areas of health, housing, civil rights, and education. Omega Psi Phi also supports the United Negro College Fund (UNCF.)
Omega Psi Phi can be distinguished from other fraternal organizations by various distinct insignia adopted throughout the organization’s history.
- Colors: royal purple and old gold
- Symbol: lamp
- Social Initiatives / Philanthropies: National Social Action Program, United Negro College Fund
- Motto: Friendship is Essential to the Soul
Founded in 1911, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was founded on the principles of uplifting African-American men who faced many challenges as they started to enter the college environment. Today, Omega Psi Phi continues to provide a support system to men of all races and to uplift and support members of the community and world around them.