On November 17, 2018 the brothers of the Psi Alpha Alpha (PsiAA) chapter, Third District, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in conjunction with the Bernie L. Bates Foundation gathered to celebrate our individual and collective accomplishments from the 2017 to 2018 Omega Year. The banquet was held at the elegant Waterford at Springfield where two hundred and ten brothers, family members, guests and friends were treated to an afternoon of elegance, fine dining and the acknowledgement of excellence. Brother Marvin Chisolm served as the Achievement Week Committee Chairman and coordinated an afternoon of elegance and excellence. As his last official event the PsiAA Immediate Past Basileus, Brother Craig M. Spraggins hosted the lunch banquet. The current PsiAA Basileus Brother Eric W. Kelly, Sr. closed out the banquet with words of thanks and an empationed-plea for continued financial support of the Bernie L. Bates Foundation. Brother James Cherry expertly served as the Master of Ceremonies and Brother (Major General-Retired) Barrye L. Price treated the audience with inspiring words on the Achievement Week theme: “Omega Men: Effecting Positive Change In Communities Worldwide”.
The lunch event gave all in attendance the opportunity to formally recognize and celebrate the following awardees: Omega Man of the Year, Brother Tony A. Wells; The Founders Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Brother Marion L. Barnwell; The Superior Service Awardee, Brother Hector Sheppard Jr.; the Colonel Charles Young Military Leadership Awardee, Brother Chester B. Keller and the Citizen of the year Mr. Roane Harris. Special recognition was also afforded to several brothers celebrating a fraternity service anniversary:
BROTHERS CELEBRATING A FRATERNITY SERVICE ANNIVERSARY
Brother John L. Peoples, Sr.
Brother James T. George
Brother Joe D. Howze
Brother Gilbert McManus
Brother Norris Middleton
Brother James C. Smith
Brother Gene A. Hudson
As always, we used this elegant opportunity to highlight the youth in our community. The audience was treated to a piano recital from our 2018 Talent Hunt winner Miss Kayla Anthony. As a special treat, our high school essay contest winner Miss Taveona Rosemond-Francis presented her thought-provoking and winning essay.
The Fairfax County Ques kicked off our Achievement Week activities on Election Day by supporting the Grand Basileus’ voter registration, education and mobilization call to duty by supporting the polling station at the Walt Whitman Middle school in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria (click here). On November 9th, the chapter co-hosted the 2nd annual Northern Virginia and DC area Ques Pre-Achievement Week happy hour with the Brothers of the Kappa Psi, Omicron Kappa Kappa and Pi Lambda Lambda chapters (click here). On November 11th, we continued to fellowship by worshiping together and supporting the Mount Calvary Baptist Church’s Veterans Day Program. We also conducted our first “Reading for Success” program event of the year at the Riverside elementary school; reading one book and providing twenty-five books to every 3rd grade student (click here). After the banquet more than thirty brothers car pooled down to Howard University to participate in the annual rededication ceremony. The 2018 PsiAA Chapter Achievement Week events were a resounding success due to the effort of the committee and but more important due to the participation from the Fairfax County Ques, their families and friends.
The Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter, Third District, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. on the 6th of November 2018 participated in the mandated program of Voter Registration, Education, and Mobilization. This mission was to ensure that the community were fully engaged in the critical areas of civic responsibility by assisting at the Walt Whitman Middle School (election polls) from 3pm to 7pm. The chapter's primary objective was to increase Fairfax County minority voters and increase voter turnout effort, comply with National and District Voter Registration Education and Mobilization (VREM) guidelines plus highlight actions and voter suppression tactics and policies that adversely impact the African American or minority community. While doing this great service, it provided the brothers an opportunity to fellowship with each other and distributed bottle water and snacks as the voters entered and exited the polling place.
There were several Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter brothers who participated in making this a tremendous event a success, to include a visit from Brother Harvey L. Woodson Jr. (Chairman, Third District Social Action Committee). The Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter continue to look forward to engaging in uplifting and providing scholarship to the community regarding VREM.
On behalf of Brother Grand Basileus Dr. David Marion and our District Representative Brother Kevin Brown, the VREM Committee (Voter Registration, Education, and Mobilization) would like to thank you for submitting your Chapter’s information regarding the Grand Basileus’ request that every Omega Chapter identify and work a Voting Precinct in our area. To that end, the VREM Committee is pleased to announce that every Chapter in the Third District has fulfilled the request. Now it is time to mobilize and work to GOTV (Get Out The Vote).
On Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th we want to capture another history making moment for the Third District. We are asking each Chapter to send us pictures of your GOTV efforts so that we can document this activity. Below you will find a form to upload your Chapter’s GOTV photographs. The photos will be compiled and published on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and The Omega Post. We are requesting photographs from both Graduate and Undergraduate Chapters. (Especially the Undergrads). Please UPLOAD your pictures below or forward the information to the Third District VREM Chairman Brother James Barber (email@example.com; 757.535.2350). Please submit your picture by Thursday, November 8th.
Always fraternally yours in Omega,
Brother Harvey L. Woodson, Jr. Chairman,
Third District Social Action Committee
Brother James Barber Chairman,
Voter Registration, Education, and Mobilization
This is the second of a two-part sharing of information related to Omega's historical involvement in civic engagement vis-a-vis voter registration, education, and mobilization (VREM). Last week we reported on the number of instances of VREM references in the Oracle from 1919-1959, and related trends. This week we report on the same between 1960-2018.and related trends, Our objective, given the importance of the upcoming mid-term elections, is to provide Brothers with a historical point of reference with the expressed purpose of motivating all Brothers to honor the legacy we have inherited by doing our part to GET OUT THE VOTE.
In this second part, the Committee combed through 104 Oracles published between 1960 and 2018 looking for all references to VREM activities and related trends here in the Third District and fraternity-wide. Our research revealed the following:
From 1960-1969 VREM activities/content appeared 55 times. From 1970-1979 VREM activities/content appeared 41 times. From 1980-1989 VREM activities/content appeared 66 times (however, the majority of these instances (53) occurred from 1980-1984. Early 1980s activism and the 1984 presidential election, which included the campaign of our own Brother Jesse Jackson, were contributing factors. After 1984, there is a noticeable drop off. From 1990-1999 VREM activities/content appeared 22 times. From 2000-2009 there were 37 instances (many of which were related to the 2004 presidential election). From 2010-2018 there were 18 instances).
From 1960-1982, VREM was a priority program. Beginning in the early to mid-1980s, the tone of the VREM reporting began to change from enthusiastic, purposeful, and hopeful participation fraternity-wide to concern over voter and programmatic apathy.
Beginning with the 32nd Grand Basileus Dr. L. Benjamin Livingston, calls from leadership to amplify our VREM activity in response to voter apathy and mediocre programming began to appear in the pages of the Oracle.Other leaders who lent their voice to the cause were Benjamin Hooks, Vernon Jordan, James Nabrit, Roy Wilkins, Grand Basileus I Gregory Newton, Grand Basileus Anthony Knox, and Benjamin Mays.
VREM reporting increased during presidential election years but decreased during mid-term election years.
VREM reporting related to local and state elections was limited and typically appeared when a fraternity brother was a candidate.
There was comparatively little VREM reporting prior to the 2008 presidential election when Obama was elected. There were only three reports of VREM activity between 2008-2010.
Reporting of undergraduate involvement in VREM activities has notably decreased over the years and is almost non-existent in the last decade.
As we combed through the Oracles, we "extracted" the VREM references to make it easier to quickly access the information. In many cases, we highlighted the content of interest to further help quickly identify the reference. Because the references are many, we have attached just a few here. All references can be downloaded by clicking on https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ElgoPYwA02F72-sf-fQmjxnXO37HbGcp. We urge to browse through/read all of the information as you can...perhaps there are lessons in the arc of our VREM activity over time.
The MondayPearl is provided by the Third District History and Archives Committee and is a weekly sharing of fraternity content, commentary, and research of historical value we hope Brothers will enjoy and from which Brothers will draw inspiration. The Committee encourages your feedback. Should you have reactions, comments, information, anecdotes, documents, and the like, related to any of the content we share, we'd very much like to hear from you. Please send all communication to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The theme of this week's Monday Pearl is "Omega Votes." This is the first part of a two part sharing of information prior to the 2018 mid-term elections exploring Omega's legacy of civic engagement vis-a-vis voter registration, education, and mobilization (VREM). Given the importance of the upcoming mid-term elections, the Committee was compelled to provide Brothers with a historical point of reference with the expressed purpose of motivating all Brothers to honor the legacy we have inherited by doing our part to GET OUT THE VOTE.
In this first part, the Committee combed through 113 Oracles published between 1919 and 1959 looking for all references to VREM activities here in the Third District and fraternity-wide. Our research revealed the following:
Prior to 1928, references to VREM activities in the Oracle were largely by proxy (i.e., through the reprint of speeches by politicians or other civic leaders, or as a tertiary theme in a fictional literary entry). After 1927, editorials, opinion pieces, commentary on the unrealized gains at the polls post-15th Amendment, and calls for "Negro" advancement by way of the ballot became increasingly conspicuous in our national publication.
The early and eventual shift in the majority Negro/Black vote from Republican to Democrat is chronicled fairly well in the Oracle.
From 1928-1929 there were four instances of VREM-related content in the Oracle, from 1930-1939 there were 15, from 1940-1949 there were 24, and from 1950-1959 there were 21.
Brother Ellis F. Corbett of Lambda Omega Chapter was an early adopter and advocate providing much of he early VREM leadership in the Third District.
In the 1940's and 1950's annual Essay Contest themes were often VREM-related. Check out the winner in 1956 (printed in March 1957).
Harry T. Penn, former Grand Basileus, former Third District Representative, and former Basileus and longtime member of Gamma Alpha Chapter was an outspoken and active advocate for voting rights and the Black vote. (Former Grand Basileus Grant Reynolds shared Brother Penn's VREM interests.)
Social Action initiatives in the 1940s and 1950s always included VREM.
Undergraduates were notably active in VREM.
Many Brothers participated in and led VREM initiatives inside and outside of Omega.
With close to 50 Bothers and students in attendance, the Tau Lambda chapter of Old Dominion University and Pi Gamma Chapter of Norfolk State University kicked off annual Joint Achievement Week activities with a joint undergraduate forum titled "The Power of Our Vote." This collaborative effort was led by Tau Lambda's Basileus Bro. Leon Brewington and Bro. Michael Lipscomb, also of Tau Lambda.
After a very informative and articulate PowerPoint presentation, the young Brothers introduced their special guest speaker, newly reelected Bro. Delegate C. E. "Cliff" Hayes, Pi Gamma 1987. Hayes is a member of House of Delegates, representing the 77th District of the Virginia General Assembly. He gave a brief background of his journey into politics and a glimpse into his future."Your vote matters”, said Hayes. “Your not voting, is (also) a vote". He added "Where the resources and your money is spent is determined by your vote." He encouraged the students to get involved as their future is based on today's politics and that the proverbial pendulum will swing back. Brother Hayes had some relevant examples relating to the millennials--undergraduate students--noting that they can be a force and make a difference now. He took questions and comments from the floor. Finally, Hayes invited the mostly African American male audience to the State House during General Assembly session for a tour, to be recognized, and, if interested, an opportunity to seek a political internship.
Following the event, Brother Hayes tweeted, "Great forum with millennials of NSU (Pi Gamma) and ODU (Tau Lambda) discussing the power of the vote. This was great mentorship by the Brothers of Omega Psi Phi - 3rd District and organized by the undergraduate chapters of the aforementioned universities. #sustainingThePowerOfTheVote”
Norfolk Virginia--The Fraters and Sorors of the South Hampton Roads Pan Hellenic Council (SHARPC) marched in Norfolk State University’s (NSU) homecoming parade on Saturday, October 28, 2017. The Divine Nine was committed to exercising our rights to voting in the November 7, 2017 elections, and encouraged all members of the community to do so. Chapter members were encouraged to mingle and march on behalf of one of our most hard-fought rights. We wore our finest Omega casual clothing and paraphernalia, representing the Fraternity. We carried non-partisan, professional signs encouraging all to “Go Vote!” Brother Kevin Brown, Third District Representative, Brother Conrado B. Morgan, First Vice District Representative, Brother Terry Calhoun, Chairman, Military Affairs and Brother Renaldo Barber marched in the parade. Photos were produced by Soror Anita Pearson of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Portsmouth Alumnae Chapter, and Brother Alvin Swilley, Eastern Area 1 Supervisor and District Photographer. Brother Swilley is a Gamma Xi SHARPC representative and coordinated Omega's participation in the parade. We look forward to marching in future parades at NSU.
Loudoun County, VA — On October 11, 2017, the Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Mu Mu Chapter, participated in a community event where candidates running for elected office in Virginia gathered to meet with their constituents. This event was hosted by the Loudoun County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the NAACP Loudoun County Branch. The candidates discussed their local and national platforms, and the attendees raised important issues that conceivably could impact the community.
Having both candidates and potential voters in the same place created a golden opportunity for Sigma Mu Mu to provide voter registration information. By leading this effort, the Brothers assisted Loudoun County residents get prepared to head to the polls in Virginia on November 7, 2017. The Chapter is energized in its push to get everyone registered who is eligible to vote. This push is a continuation of the efforts made by the Fraternity in 2014 and 2016. The goal is to create voter enthusiasm and help the community decide on Virginia’s next leadership team. All participants at the event were very appreciative of the opportunity, afforded by Sigma Mu Mu, to learn more about the electoral process.
Omega Psi Phi continues to raise awareness of the importance of elections, and to emphasize the collective power of the people through the exercise of their vote.