Greetings Brothers!

Happy belated Easter from the Third District History and Archives Committee.

The need for renewal is unmistakably human. Renewal is a relative and existential imperative. It applies to all human things – including organizations. The relative nature of renewal is coherent with the discipline and medium of history and its indulgence and application.

In the last week or so several of our cultural standard bearers have moved from labor to reward. I’m a jazz guy so the loss of McCoy Tyner, Ellis Marsalis and Wallace Roney came as particularly sad news. Although I wouldn’t call him a jazz musician, Gil Scott Heron’s contributions were no less significant. Shortly after the passing of Ellis Marsalis, his son Wynton penned the following:

My daddy passed away last night. We now join the worldwide family who are mourning grandfathers and grandmothers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers— kinfolk, friends, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances and others.

What can one possibly say about loss in a time when there are many people losing folks that mean so much to them? One of my friends lost both her mother AND father just last week. We all grieve and experience things in different ways and I’m sure each of my five brothers feel and deal in their own way.

My daddy was a humble man with a lyrical sound that captured the spirit of place–New Orleans, the Crescent City, The Big Easy, the Curve. He was a stone-cold believer without extravagant tastes.

Like many parents, he sacrificed for us and made so much possible. Not only material things, but things of substance and beauty like the ability to hear complicated music and to read books; to see and to contemplate art; to be philosophical and kind, but to also understand that a time and place may require a pugilistic-minded expression of ignorance.

His example for all of us who were his students (a big extended family from everywhere), showed us to be patient and to want to learn and to respect teaching and thinking and to embrace the joy of seriousness. He taught us that you could be conscious and stand your ground with an opinion rooted ‘in something’ even if it was overwhelmingly unfashionable. And that if it mattered to someone, it mattered.

I haven’t cried because the pain is so deep….it doesn’t even hurt. He was absolutely my man. He knew how much I loved him, and I knew he loved me (though he was not given to any type of demonstrative expression of it). As a boy, I followed him on so many underpopulated gigs in unglamorous places, and there, in the passing years, learned what it meant to believe in the substance of a fundamental idea whose only verification was your belief.

I only ever wanted to do better things to impress HIM. He was my North Star and the only opinion that really deep down mattered to me was his because I grew up seeing how much he struggled and sacrificed to represent and teach vital human values that floated far above the stifling segregation and prejudice that defined his youth but, strangely enough, also imbued his art with an even more pungent and biting accuracy.

But for all of that, I guess he was like all of us; he did the best he could, did great things, had blind spots and made mistakes, fought with his spouse, had problems paying bills, worried about his kids and other people’s, rooted for losing teams, loved gumbo and red beans, and my momma’s pecan pie. But unlike a healthy portion of us, he really didn’t complain about stuff. No matter how bad it was.

A most fair-minded, large-spirited, generous, philanthropic (with whatever he had), open-minded person is gone. Ironically, when we spoke just 5 or 6 days ago about this precarious moment in the world and the many warnings he received ‘to be careful, because it wasn’t his time to pass from COVID’, he told me,” Man, I don’t determine the time. A lot of people are losing loved ones. Yours will be no more painful or significant than anybody else’s”.

That was him, “in a nutshell”, (as he would say before talking for another 15 minutes without pause).

In that conversation, we didn’t know that we were prophesying. But he went out soon after as he lived—-without complaint or complication. The nurse asked him, “Are you breathing ok?” as the oxygen was being steadily increased from 3 to 8, to too late, he replied, ”Yeah. I’m fine.”

For me, there is no sorrow only joy. He went on down the Good Kings Highway as was his way, a jazz man, “with grace and gratitude.”

And I am grateful to have known him.
– Wynton

We also experienced the ascension of our own Brother Earl G. Graves, Sr., an artist in his own right. I remember when I was just a kid wanting so much to grow up to be like Earl Graves. I imagine I’m not the only one. I always hoped to meet him one day, but I guess time and space proved uncooperative. That’s okay, because I’m a believer in the relative nature of renewal.

Although he was not a fraternity brother, Mr. Ellis Marsalis left us a worthy and very human example of Manhood, as articulated by his son, Wynton. Likewise, Brother Earl Graves left us a fortune of pearls. I will be relating to both as I plan and execute my next renewal. Perhaps Omega will see fit to do the same as we strive to renew and add to our own inheritance.

Please make time to read and act on some of what Brother Graves shares in the attached article that appeared in the Winter 1975 Oracle after receiving the Fraternity’s Citizen of the Year Award.

Read More – CitizenGravesWinter1975Oracle

Make it a great week Brothers. Be Renewed!

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 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