In 1987-1988 while a student at the University of Virginia, I remember taking two classes, one called “The History of the Civil Rights Movement” and the other called “The History of Jazz.” I also recall these classes were considered by many in Thomas Jefferson’s academic village (black and white) to be “schedule fillers” or “guts,” as it were. Their purpose was to provide a break from the “intellectual rigor” of the traditionally rigorous. Think about that for a second. I mean, I get that these classes required a different challenge than organic chemistry and statistics, but I resented the characterization that they were something unimportant. In my mind and in this particular context/environment, there was something poignantly wrong with this narrative.I wanted/needed these classes to be important because they were relevant to my history and cultural experience and point of reference.. I needed somebody to recognize! Reducing these classes/topics to something lesser than was similar in my mind to the disrespect recently visited upon the Howard University community.. A rose by any other name…
My jaundiced reflections notwithstanding, these two classes were awesome. The first, taught by the late Julian Bond (Civil Rights leader), introduced me to the name Orval Faubus, a despicable character. The second, taught (believe it or not) by a cool white guy with a long goatee and black horn-rimmed glasses, introduced me to Charles Mingus, jazz musician. I remember that day in jazz class when the professor played Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus,” first recorded in 1959 and named after the racist Governor from Arkansas (1955-1967), who I had first learned about the previous semester in Professor Bond’s class. The connection may not have landed me a good job upon graduation, but for me it was an important connection at that time and in that place. I remember feeling the need to connect to something culturally relevant and representative in a place that wasn’t created with that end in mind. I regretfully didn’t do much to change the narrative regarding these and similar classes. I’m sure I had a party to get to or some pretty lady to hold the door for. The revolution would have to wait. All was not lost, however. I began to read and listen and connect differently. Growth happened. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT2-iobVcdw&list=RDQT2-iobVcdw&index=1 . It brought back memories. Check it out.
At this point (or perhaps earlier), you might be thinking, “the H&A Chairman needs to get some sleep…what does this have to do with Omega history?” I wouldn’t blame you for asking the question, however, I have an answer. While doing research on Brother Oliver W. Hill, Civil Rights attorney and longtime member of Phi Phi Chapter, I found these two articles juxtaposed in these clippings from the September 14, 1958 New York Daily News https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31059646/hillfaubus_1/ and https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31062095/hillfaubus_2/. One is an article about Hill and his efforts to desegregate Virginia schools and the other is about Faubus and his efforts to maintain the status quo. On second thought, the articles weren’t juxtaposed as much as they were connected; just as Omega has been connected throughout its history to the service and uplift of mankind. (More on Brother Oliver W. Hill in the weeks to come.) We are important; we just need to understand why and let that understanding order our steps.
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 https://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.