Greetings Brothers!

I read for the first time this weekend the autobiography of our 28th Grand Basileus, James S. Avery, Sr., titled “Others Thought I Could Lead.” And while we strive to highlight Third District history in this forum, I was moved to tip my hat to our good brothers to the north in the Second District in recognition of one its many worthy sons. If possible, I enthusiastically recommend that all Omega men read Brother Avery’s book. In it you will find material supporting the notion that men make Omega and not the other way around. If that is something you already believe, you will also discover how the personification and purposeful manifestation of our precepts individually and collectively makes and keeps Omega a force for good. Brother Avery was also of the mind that behaviors counter to our precepts only serve to diminish our potential, viability and relevance.

Prior to and after his initiation into Omega as a graduate member by way of the Omicron Chi chapter in Plainfield, NJ, Brother Avery exemplified high ideals of friendship, manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Prior to seeking Omega, Avery writes:

“Important motivators for joining an organization of men are the friendship and mutual respect among the members, and I saw these characteristics in casual situations, in organized social occasions and on a one-to-one basis as well. I respected these men and having them as neighbors made it even better. While I saw the examples my friends evinced, I experienced a larger view while traveling through the South with Wendell Alston, also an Omega man. Wherever we traveled in segregated areas and needed accommodations, Omega men helped provide them. If we needed contacts, Omega men helped provide them. No matter the occasion or the need, all Wendell had to do was to call his Omega brothers. It was a network of college men linked by a bond of friendship, mutual interests, and mutual respect. I liked this common interest among men and the idea of an unbreakable bond of friendship. I loved the idea of using talents and advanced training to help the less fortunate, to motivate others to attain higher goals in education, and to make a positive difference in a community. I was already trying to do this in my community life and here was an organization of men who had similar ideals of citizenship.

I learned that the fraternity was structured on four basic cardinal principles: manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. These principles are supposed to give fundamental support to a brother’s behavior in everything he does in life. Manhood suggests that men of Omega must always be men of dignity, responsibility, and high character. Perseverance represents a determination to stay the course in seeking the highest and best purposes in all endeavors in life. Scholarship, the accumulation of knowledge and intelligence, is a goal that Omega men must always respect, reward in others, and seek themselves in educational attainment. Uplift is the principle in life that commands one to keep Christianity foremost in all he does.”

Omicron Chi was chartered in 1955 and Avery was among the chapter’s first initiates in 1957. He went on to serve in many leadership capacities from chapter Basileus to District Representative to the Supreme Council, serving as Grand Basileus from 1970-1973. I’ve attached and encourage you to read a timeless (and perhaps, timely) message from Brother Avery that appeared in the summer 1971 Oracle. Reflecting on his Omega experience, Brother Avery writes:

“As a past Grand Basileus of Omega, in fact the 28th Grand Basileus, the second oldest at this time, I feel a strong need to keep focusing the attention of my brothers on critical problem areas in our society. In speech after speech, in varying ways, I point out to them that I firmly believe that organizations like the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity are uniquely positioned in philosophical direction and talent to be the leaders among those working on the serious problems facing our communities and particularly our youth. Organizations like Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., are going to face some serious challenges in the years ahead, challenges relating to organization, membership makeup, behavior, customs, leadership development, and program relevancy. All such organizations must look at the way its leaders are developed and selected. In essence they must first answer the question, do we continue to determine our international level fraternal leaders on the basis of where they live, or do we come up with a plan to select leaders on the basis of real leadership experience and a set of proven leadership criteria?

Organizations like Omega must make a conscious committed effort to sever relationships with old customs and outdated procedures that now draw the interest of illegality and the courts and sap our fraternal strength…Legal decisions will be the master of our fate unless we eliminate all behavior and customs that attract legal actions. We simply must sever any future relationship with outdated customs. We must realize that there are no logical reasons for us to continue fascination with actions of any kind that have no real value or intelligent application to the things we should be doing. It is senseless not to come to that realization.

Today’s society in so many ways is quite interdependent, affected by problem areas that touch a broad spectrum of humanity. Under such conditions one group cannot do enough alone to really impact major problems. Networking is a logical solution. Groups and organizations must interact with joint efforts to achieve real success on critical urban social problems. In this context, we must simply work diligently at styling our organizational talents and program objectives to effectively impact the needs of particular areas of concern. New, aggressive social alignments are necessary to achieve intensive networking with other socially relevant organizations.

Fortunately, as far as Omega is concerned, there is something that gives continued strength and brilliance to its fraternal character. The four cardinal principles which form the basic foundation of our existence, brought into being almost a century ago, are still central to the kind of conduct and behavior that are linked to successful programming and living. The tenets of scholarship, of manliness, of perseverance, and the religious quality of uplift remain basic to all that we do as an organization and as individuals. The longevity and level of relevancy of Omega’s future life, as well as that of other socially oriented organizations, will depend on how we use these principles in reacting to what we seek to accomplish.

If organizations like Omega do not choose to pursue a valid self-assessment, then in doing nothing, two possibilities can occur. On the one hand, we will continue to exist with little real relevance or social significance, or on the other hand, the continuation of stupid, senseless actions will lead to financial ruin and chaos. Neither one of these possibilities should be an option. We have a serious choice to make.

As men of Omega, let us always remember that we did not enter our fraternity to have social tunnel vision. We entered for more relevant reasons that put us right in the middle of the social crises around us. I hope we will rise to our calling as men committed to doing something to raise the level of aspiration of those around us, providing those alert signals and the guidance that can assure safe passage through the onslaught of technological change.

Whatever we do as Omega men, let us do it with a caring spirit reaching out to all people asking them to join hands with men of intelligence and grace to work on issues that can elevate the future promise of human kind.

As many of my fraternity brothers already know, I have never felt that a real, committed Omega man was an ordinary man, but a man set tall in his ways-a man who chose to walk in greatness with other men that he can truly call his brothers. I believe that every calling in life has its normal day-to-day set of things to be done if one is to survive. Beyond that point of day-to-day relations, however, we have that opportunity as Omega men to invest our participation in life with an enduring significance. This is the only way that we as fraternity brothers can attain the dignity and the distinction that leads to the life to which we must all aspire. This is my hope, my wish, and my prayer for the men of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

There is something else of great significance that I hope the Men of Omega will keep primary in their lives. It is the significance of our fraternal friendship. We say it is “essential to the soul.” There is greater meaning in those words, for we must see our friendship as being so strong and binding that it immunizes us from thoughts and actions counter to our cardinal principles, so strong that it prevents misconceptions to creep maliciously into our lives, rule our outlook, and dominate our ambitions.”

I know this week’s MP is a long one, but If you still have a little time, I’ve included the following interesting aside. When reading Brother Avery’s book, I found it intriguing to learn about the Brother who Avery describes invited and encouraged him to become a member of Omega, Wendell P. Alston. Brothers Alston and Avery worked closely with one another and became great friends. Brother Alston was born into an artistic family and had a little brother named Charles Alston. After his father died when he was a teenager, Brother Alston’s mother remarried to a man named Harry Bearden who was the uncle of Romare Bearden, considered to be one of the most important American artists of the 20th Century for his artistic depictions of African-American life. Harry and Howard Bearden lived on the same street which allowed for Romare and Charles Alston to become very close. Both Romare and Charles went on to occupy significant places in history. Charles Alston was a painter and sculptor during the Harlem Renaissance and was commissioned to create a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., which became the first image of an African-American displayed in the white house. He was also the first African-American supervisor of the Work Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (, which provided funding for the commission of African-American cultural art to be displayed on federal property. Unlike his big brother, Wendell, who was an Omega man, Charles pledged Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity while at Columbia University. Fraternal orientation notwithstanding, Charles Alston created several drawings of prominent Omega men that many might recognize (see attached).

Other samples of Charles Alston’s work can be found here and here Samples of Bearden’s work can be found here

Read More – Avery_Oracle1971_Sum

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 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