A Concise History of the Third District

Dedicated to Brother Dr. Vernon E. Johnson who wrote the “Origin of the Current Third District,” from which this history is adapted, and who served as the 15th Third District Representative from 1983-1986.

To know and appreciate the history of the Third District, it is helpful to understand how and why districts in general were originally formed, their evolving impact on the organization of the Fraternity, and their related and evolving function.

From the founding of Omega on November 17, 1911, throughout its first decade, Districts and District Representatives as we know them today did not exist. The Grand Basileus was solely responsible for administering all facets of the Fraternity—a job that became increasingly more difficult as the Fraternity grew.

In response to Omega’s increasingly rapid growth, in 1922, the Eleventh Annual Grand Conclave, which met in Philadelphia, PA, authorized the creation of the Office of Vice Grand Basileus. At the time, the Vice Grand Basileus’ primary role was to assist the Grand Basileus with managing the Fraternity’s expansion. John W. Love was the first to fill the new position. Love immediately focused his efforts on working with existing chapters to increase membership while chartering new chapters that would expand Omega’s impact and reach.

The same Conclave that created the office of the Vice Grand Basileus empowered Grand Basileus J. Alston Atkins to appoint five “District Representatives” whose responsibility it would be to supervise chapters as assigned. The first five District Representatives appointed were Charles White for the New England states; Carter L. Marshall for the Mid-Atlantic states, which included what was to become the Third District; L. R. Hill for the Central states; William J. Faulkner for the Southern states; and George L. Vaughn for the Western states. The District Representatives were to function under the supervision of the Vice Grand Basileus and assist him with growing Omega. To fulfill their charge, District Representatives were assigned to distinct regions of the country, and each was to visit all the chapters in his area at least once during 1923. They were also to scout their areas for locations in which new chapters could be chartered and were to use their influence to establish new chapters where desirable. As the Fraternity grew, so did the number of districts. Between 1923 and 1928 the Fraternity implemented several district reorganizations, at one point establishing as many as seventeen districts. In 1928, Washington, District of Columbia, currently in the Third District, represented the Fifteenth District.

The next important step in the development of organized districts occurred in 1929 when Beta Phi Chapter of Durham, North Carolina obtained approval from its District Representative to convene a conference of representatives from the various chapters in North Carolina to discuss matters of mutual interest.  Thus, on March 26, 1929 the first State Conference was held in Greensboro, North Carolina. This first conference was deemed such a success that the second State Conference was held on April 18, 1929 in Durham, North Carolina. At this second conference, the North Carolina State Conference was officially established. The North Carolina State Conference met in 1930 and 1931, but because of the Great Depression, it did not meet again until 1936. In the meantime, the idea of convening a similar conference in the State of Virginia was introduced by Ellis F. Corbett who had recently graduated from North Carolina A&T College where he was a member of Mu Psi Chapter.

After graduating from college, Corbett moved north to Virginia and joined Lambda Omega Chapter, a graduate chapter in Norfolk, Virginia. He carried with him the favorable experience he remembered as a participant in the North Carolina State Conference while in college and accordingly, he tried to persuade chapter members to organize a similar state conference in Virginia.  After writing many letters to other chapters in the state, Corbett and others in Lambda Omega succeeded in 1934 to establish the Virginia Omega State Conference, the second such conference in the Fraternity. The first of eight meetings of the Virginia Omega State Conference to occur between 1934 and 1941 was hosted by Lambda Omega Chapter on May 19, 1934, in Norfolk, VA. At this first meeting, the following temporary officers of the Virginia Omega State Conference were appointed:

Edward R. Archer (Lambda Omega), President
Arthur P. Davis (Phi Phi), Vice President
James E. Segear (Phi Phi), Secretary
W. G. Johnson, Keeper of Peace

J. Arthur Weiseger, Grand Keeper of Records and Seal at the time, represented the Supreme Council at this first conference. Before the end of the conference the following permanent officers were elected for 1935 and were later installed by G. Hamilton Francis, Basileus of Lambda Omega:

Edward R. Archer (Lambda Omega), President
Theodore L. Taylor, Vice President
C. W. Seay (Delta Omega), Secretary and Treasurer
Ellis F. Corbett (Lambda Omega), Director of Publicity

The Second Virginia Omega State Conference was held May 17-18, 1935 in Lynchburg, Virginia and was hosted by Gamma Omega Chapter.  This meeting was called to order by Vice President Taylor in the absence of President E. A. Archer, who was compelled to resign because of a long siege of illness.  At this meeting, Conference leadership established an organizational agenda to normalize and focus the efforts of the Virginia chapters. This statewide agenda called for an organized and concerted attack on the economic, civic, and social problems that hindered the progress of the Negro in the South, and especially the progress of the Negro College man. A hallmark of the Conference’s resulting action was the implementation of efforts to register Negro voters. This was the brain child of Luther Porter Jackson of Delta Omega Chapter, who would go on to lead Omega’s voter registration efforts in the State of Virginia for many years.  This conference was attended by a number of national officials including:  William E. Baugh, Vice Grand Basileus; J. Arthur Weiseger, Grand Keeper of Records and Seal; Frederick S. Weaver, representing Herman Dreer the Editor-in-Chief of the ORACLE. At this second conference, newly elected officers were installed by J. A. Jordan, Basileus of Gamma Omega Chapter. A. B. Green of Lambda Omega Chapter was elected as the second permanent President of the Virginia Omega Conference.

The Third Virginia Omega State Conference was held May 8-19, 1936 in Richmond, Virginia. Led by its Basileus, James E. Segear Phi Phi Chapter was the host chapter. Newly elected officers at this third conference were:

A. B. Green (Lambda Omega), President
Oliver W. Hill (Gamma Alpha), Vice President
C. W. Seay (Delta Omega), Secretary and Treasurer
A. Washington Owens (Phi Phi), Treasurer and Marshal

The fourth Virginia Omega State Conference was important for its implications in leading to the later establishment of Districts nation-wide. The conference was held May 14-15, 1937 at the Hotel Dumas in Roanoke, Virginia. Oliver W. Hill, then a member of Gamma Alpha Chapter, served as President. In attendance were:  Grand Basileus William E. Baugh (who was attending his third Virginia Conference), Vice Grand Basileus Jesse O. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief of the ORACLE R. D. Baskerville, Managing Editor of the ORACLE Frederick S. Weaver, and Fourth District Representative C. W. Seay of Delta Omega Chapter. Ellis F. Corbett, the Conference secretary, reported that while attending the 25th Jubilee Conclave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania several months earlier in December 1936, he was “literally swamped by requests for information about the Virginia Omega State Conference.” Corbett also reported that “practically all the national officers had paid tribute to our effort here in Virginia.”  Grand Basileus Baugh was quoted as saying, “This conference has gone beyond the experimental state and is doing a very constructive and effective piece of work. The program should challenge the admiration of every Omega man in the nation.”  Finally, Corbett reported, “It was through the efforts of the Virginia Conference that Virginia was set aside as a separate district” in Omega.  Bro C. W. Seay of Delta Omega Chapter was appointed as the first District Representative of this new Fourth District.

The fifth Virginia Omega State Conference was held May 13-14, 1938 in Petersburg, Virginia with A. M. Banks of Delta Omega as president, followed by the Sixth Virginia Omega State Conference on May 12-14, 1939 in Norfolk, Virginia. Lambda Omega Chapter hosted the sixth state conference, which was led by conference president, A.G. Macklin of Gamma Alpha Chapter. In attendance were Grand Basileus Albert W. Dent and H. Carl Moultrie I. The theme of the sixth Virginia Omega State Conference was “Juvenile Delinquency,” a topic with which Moultrie had considerable experience. At the time, Moultrie was the Executive Secretary of the Colored Boys Club and the Colored Probation Officer for the City of Wilmington, North Carolina. Moultrie was then a member of Omicron Omega Chapter in Wilmington, North Carolina and was invited by the Conference to represent the Sixth District and speak on juvenile delinquency.

The Seventh Virginia Omega State Conference was held May 12-13, 1940 in Newport News, Virginia with A. G. Macklin as president and Delta Omega as the host chapter.  In attendance were Grand Basileus Z. Alexander Looby, Vice Basileus Mifflin F. Gibbs, and Fredrick S. Weaver, Editor-in-Chief of the ORCALE.  Ellis F. Corbett, then serving as the Fourth District Representative, was also in attendance. The following year, the eighth and last Virginia Omega State Conference was held on May 9-10, 1941 in Roanoke, Virginia. This last conference was hosted by Gamma Alpha Chapter and its Basileus, Harry T. Penn.. Penn later became Omega’s 19th Grand Basileus.  Grand Officers in attendance included Grand Basileus Z. Alexander Looby, Vice Grand Basileus Gibbs Mifflin F. Gibbs, and Editor-in-Chief of the ORACLE Frederick S. Weaver.  Also attending as Fourth District Representative was Ellis F. Corbett who later became the 13th Editor-in-Chief of the ORACLE and the 27th Grand Basileus.

Throughout these formative years, the State Conference proved to be one of the most effective and transformational organizational constructs to date within Omega, largely because of its capacity to nurture and promote inter-chapter and inter-level (chapter, state, and national) programmatic resonance and alignment. Although districts existed concurrently, until 1936 District Representatives did not represent the chapters as they were appointed by the Grand Basileus and represented the national body. District Representatives and the districts to which they were assigned were primarily deployed by the national body to manage fraternity expansion, not program execution, the success of which relied heavily on chapter involvement, communication, and cooperation. This was better accomplished through the State Conference model.

Although the national body stopped appointing District Representatives in 1936, and they were thereafter elected by the chapters, it wasn’t until the period between 1936 and 1947 when the State Conference and district organizational constructs merged into the district model that exists today. The Sixth District, composed of North Carolina and South Carolina, led the way with the initial District Conference in 1936.  Virginia, which made up the Fourth District, quickly followed in 1937 with both the Virginia Omega State Conference and the Fourth District Conference coexisting until 1942. The District of Columbia was at the time in the Third District which also included Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. The original five districts had been increased to seventeen by 1928 and reduced to a total of eleven by 1942. In 1943, the Fraternity underwent a reorganization that resulted in chapters being organized into one of twelve districts.  At that time, Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland were organized into a new Third District. Later modifications in the early 1950’s resulted in the elimination of the Eleventh District, with all of its chapters consolidated into the Eighth District.

A notable organizational shift was the decision by the Fraternity to move all Maryland chapters that were in the Third District at the time to the Second District. In 1955, during the administration of the 22nd Grand Basileus John F. Potts, Sr., an arguably consequential and far-reaching re-organization of the Fraternity occurred. Prior to 1955 there were four chapters located in the State of Maryland – Pi Chapter and Pi Omega Chapter in Baltimore, Pi Epsilon in Princess Anne, and Pi Alpha in Salisbury. Pi Chapter and Pi Omega were organized in the Third District and Pi Epsilon and Pi Alpha were organized in the Second District. On February 5, 1955, Grand Basileus Potts held a Supreme Council meeting at the National Headquarters in Washington, DC. During this meeting, the Supreme Council voted to transfer Pi Chapter and Pi Omega Chapter from the Third District to the Second District. Although Potts and the rest of the Supreme Council could not predict the future, the decision by the Supreme Council to organize all Maryland chapters in the Second District would have a significant impact on the balance of power in the Fraternity. From 1955 to 2018, the number of active chapters in the State of Maryland increased from four to 24. As the Second District grew, so did its voting strength and relative influence in the Fraternity. The Third District would thereafter be comprised of chapters in Virginia and the District of Columbia.

THIRD DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS

The Third District currently has 43 chapters and approximately 2011 members. A member of the Third District has held every Grand Office. We have had several members serve as Grand Basileus dating back to the Founders, men initiated at Alpha Chapter. We are also proud of the eight undergraduates that served as Second Vice Grand Basileus. The District of Columbia has held 10 Grand Conclaves most notably were the 50th Golden Anniversary in 1961, 75th Diamond Anniversary in 1986 and the 100th Centennial Anniversary in 2011. Virginia has held only one Grand Conclave, the 20th, in Richmond in 1932.

Our most recent Grand Officers include Jamin Powell, 40th 2nd Vice Grand Basileus; Curtis Baylor, Grand Keeper of Records and Seal; Kenneth Brown, Grand Marshall for the Centennial Conclave; Daniel B. Jones, Sr., Grand Keeper of Finance; and Mark E. Jackson, Sr., Grand Keeper of Records and Seal.

New chapters chartered since 1995 include Omicron Kappa Kappa “OKK” Chapter in 1996, Sigma Kappa Kappa Chapter in 1997, Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter in 2004, Zeta Mu Mu Chapter in 2008, and Sigma Mu Mu Chapter in 2011. Both Pi Lambda Lambda and Sigma Mu Mu chapters have won International Social Action Chapter of Year and Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter has won International Chapter of the Year in their early years. In 2014, Psi Nu Chapter won International Small Chapter of the Year and Social Action Chapter of the Year. Eta Delta Delta Chapter won Undergraduate Chapter of the Year for several years. Nu Psi, Gamma Epsilon and Pi Gamma Chapters have won International Step Shows. Brother (Major) Conrado B. Morgan established the Colonel Charles Young Award for Delta Omega Chapter and the Third District. He was also successful in getting the Colonel Charles Young Award approved by the Grand Conclave in 2002 as a Fraternity-wide recognition awarded during the Achievement Week mandated program. Several Brothers in the Third District have been recognized internationally by the Fraternity.

Listed in the table below are the names of those individuals who served as the chief elected officials of the mighty Third District as we know it.  It should be noted that from approximately 1942 until 1946, the Third District operated with a District Basileus and a Third District Representative. The District Basileus was considered the chief operating official of the District. After 1946, the District Representative became the sole chief official of the Third District.

VIRGINIA STATE CONFERENCE ERA

Year(s)

Name, Chapter, Position

Concurrent District Representatives

1934 Edward R. Archer, Lambda Omega President
1935 Theodore L. Taylor Vice President
1935-1936 A.B. Green, Lambda Omega President
1936-1937 Oliver W. Hill, Gamma Alpha President C.W. Seay, Delta Omega
1937-1938 A.M. Banks, Delta Omega President
1938-1939 A.G. Macklin, Gamma Alpha President
1939-1940 A.G. Macklin, Gamma Alpha resident E.F. Corbett, Lambda Omega
1940-1942 J.B. Blayton, Alpha President

THIRD DISTRICT BASILEUS ERA

VIRGINIA STATE CONFERENCE ERA

Name, Chapter, Position

Concurrent District Representatives

1942-1946 R.J. Kenny, Jr., Phi Phi, Basileus Harry T. Penn, Gamma Alpha
1946-1947 Harry T. Penn, Gamma Alpha, Basileus

THIRD DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE ERA

Year(s)

Name, Chapter, Position

Concurrent District Representatives

Year(s)

1st Thomas H. Shields Lambda Omega 1947-1949
2nd Theodore L. Taylor Lambda Omega 1949-1950
3rd James D. Gill Lambda Omega 1950-1954
4th James B. Williams Phi Phi 1954-1956
5th Hilary jones Lambda Omega 1956-1958
6th Charles D. Paige Delta Omega 1958-1961
7th Hiram F. Jones Alpha Omega 1961-1965
8th Frederick D. Nance Lambda Omega 1965-1966
9th Sylvester Blue Delta Omega 1967-1970
10th Melvin J. Washington Alpha Omega 1970-1974
11th B. Thomas Garnette Lambda Omega 1974-1976
12th Charles D. Chambliss, Jr. Delta Omega 1976-1978
13th Kenneth A. Brown Alpha Omega 1978-1981
14th James R. Clark, Sr. Delta Omega 1981-1983
15th Vernon E. Johnson Lambda Omega 1983-1986
16th Robert W. Howard, Sr. Alpha Omega 1986-1987
17th Robert W. Fairchild Alpha Omega 1987-1990
18th Marion L. Barnwell Psi Alpha Alpha 1990-1993
19th Joseph C. Mckinney Delta Omega 1993-1995
20th Gary C. Clark Alpha Omega 1995-1997
21th James A. Peterson Lambda Omega 1997-1999
22nd Rayford L. Harris Phi Phi 1999-2002
23rd Curtis A. Baylor Psi Alpha Alpha 2002-2004
24th Robert H. Lewis Psi Alpha Alpha 2004-2006
25th Mark E. Jackson, Sr. Alpha Omega 2006-2009
26th Anthony Knight Lambda Omega 2009-2012
27th Robert C. Warren Alpha Omega 2012-2015
28th Ezekiel Dennison, Jr. Delta Omega 2015-2017
29th Kevin Brown Kappa Iota Iota 2017-Present

THIRD DISTRICT GRAND OFFICERS SINCE 1930

Office of Grand Basileus

   
18th Campbell C. Johnson Alpha Omega 1945-1947
19th Harry T. Penn Gamma Alpha 1947-1949

Office of Second Vice Grand Basileus

   
6th J. Heyward Harrison Pi 1953
7th Howard C. Davis Alpha 1953-1954
11th William T. Johnson Nu Psi 1957-1958
22nd Christopher R.E.L. Dixon Alpha 1973-1974
24th K. Earl Ferguson Alpha 1976-1977
30th Alonzo L. Carter, Jr. Gamma Epsilon 1986-1990
33rd Mark E. Jackson, Sr. Delta Theta 1994-1996
35th Aaron E. Price Omicron Gamma 1998-2000
40th Jamin A. Powell Zeta 2008-2010

Office of Grand Keeper of Records and Seal

 
Walter H. Mazyck Alpha Omega 1930-1934
J. Arthur Weiseger Alpha Omega 1934-1937
J. Arthur Weiseger Alpha Omega 1946-1948
Walter C. Riddick Lambda Omega 1951-1971
Robert W. Fairchild Alpha Omega 1994-1998
Curtis A. Baylor Psi Alpha Alpha 2011-2013
Mark E. Jackson, Sr. Alpha Omega 2018-Present

Office of Grand Keeper of Finance

 
Daniel B. Taylor Alpha Omega 1930-1932
Kenneth A. Brown Alpha Omega 1988-1992
Alcindor Rosier Psi Alpha Alpha 1996-2000
Daniel B. Jones Pi Lambda Lambda 2016-Present

Office of Grand Counselor

 
Melvin J. Washington Alpha Omega 1975-1977
Charles D. Chambliss, Jr. Delta Omega 1978-1980

Office of Grand Chaplain

 
H. Albion Ferrell Alpha Omega 1957-1973

Office of Grand Marshal

 
George W. Goodman Alpha Omega 1942
Alfred E. Smith Alpha Omega 1945
William D. Martin, Sr. Alpha Omega 1961
Edward Clement Alpha Omega 1986
Kenneth A. Brown Alpha Omega 2011

Undergraduate/Intermediate Representatives

 
Larry A. Brown Kappa Psi 1980-1981
David A. Brown Pi Gamma 1983-1984
Leonard A. Robinson Alpha 1999-2000
Donnel Jones Omicron Gamma 2013-2016

INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT WEEK AWARDEES

Undergraduate Chapter of the Year

Eta Delta Delta 2014-2105
Eta Delta Delta 2016-2017

Graduate Large Chapter of the Year

Pi Lambda Lambda 2010-2011
Pi Lambda Lambda 2011-2012
Pi Lambda Lambda 2014-2015
Psi Alpha Alpha 2017-2018

Graduate Small Chapter of the Year

Social Action Chapter of the Year

Pi Lambda Lambda 2004-2005
Pi Lambda Lambda 2006-2007
Pi Lambda Lambda 2010-2011

Social Action Chapter of the Year

 
Isaiah West Eta Delta Delta 2014-2015

Graduate Omega Man of the Year

 
John C. Oliver Alpha Omega 1955-1956
Oliver W. Hill Phi Phi 1956-1957
Charles D. Chambliss, Jr. Delta Omega 1976-1977
Rafeeq Akbar Phi Phi 2002-2003
Steven G. Johnson Alpha Omega 2011-2012
Eric N. Noel Pi Lambda Lambda 2014-2015

International Founders Award

 
Gary C. Clark Alpha Omega 2012
Amos C. Townsend Alpha Omega 2014


Sources provided upon request by email to 3dhistoryandarchives@gmail.com.