On May 30, 1963, Brother Walter Nathaniel Ridley, then president of Elizabeth City State Teachers College, addressed the senior class of Nash Central High School in Nashville, NC. In his address he stated "The greatest difference between men is the difference in aspiration and development. The challenge is to erase that difference." He went on to say that "If one would take upon himself the nobility of challenge, he must take upon himself the responsibility of being somebody."
Ridley was initiated into the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in the fall of 1930 by way of Alpha Chapter on the campus of Howard University. A true son of the Third District, Ridley was born in Newport News, VA, taught for 21 years at Virginia State University, served as academic dean at Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, VA, and made numerous contributions to the Petersburg and Norfolk communities as a member of both Delta Omega and Lambda Omega chapters. In 1953, Brother Ridley became the first African American to receive an academic doctoral degree from a traditional Southern white college or university when he graduated from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education (https://aig.alumni.virginia.edu/ridley/about/history/life-walter-n-ridley/)..
In addition to serving as the longtime Third District Scholarship Committee Chairman, In the mid-1950's, Ridley was appointed by Grand Basileus John F. Potts to serve with the likes of Benjamin E. Mays, I. Gregory Newton, and Arthur P. Davis (member of the original Committee on the History of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity) on the National Scholarship Commission. Ridley remained on the committee until 1976, serving as chairman of the committee from 1971-1973.
Ridley retired as president emeritus from Elizabeth City State Teachers College in 1968. During his tenure, Ridley made news when he admitted the first white student to a traditionally black southern university, an event which was documented by Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace when the college was showcased in a CBS TV documentary, "Integration in Reverse.”
From 1970 until his retirement, Ridley taught psychology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania where he helped charter the Omega Delta chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in 1972 (https://westchesterques.com/history/). Upon his retirement, the university designated Ridley professor emeritus.
In honor of Ridley's legacy of erasing differences in aspiration and development and achievement, the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund was established at the University of Virginia in 1987. For over 32 years, with an endowment of over $5 million, the Ridley Scholarship family of funds has sought to attract and retain the nation’s most meritorious African-American students to the University of Virginia.
The Committee encourages you to check out the attached information to learn more about and from Brother Walter N. Ridley.
Make it a great week Brothers. Be noble!
3rd District History and Archives Committee
The Monday Pearl 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. Previous "Pearls" can be found at http://3rddistrictques.org/about-us/overview/monday-pearl/. 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.