Last week’s Monday Pearl highlighted Third District Omega man (Zeta chapter) Victor Claude Smith, ScD, who was the first African American to graduate as a chemical engineer (graduating from MIT in 1924). In keeping with the theme of “firsts from the Third District,” This week’s Monday Pearl highlights another Third District Omega man whose lamp cast light on a once dark path.
In 1921, two years before being initiated into Omega by way of Alpha Omega chapter, John Wesley Cromwell, Jr. became the first African American to earn the designation of Certified Public Accountant (see https://myemail.constantcontact.com/NABA-Black-History-Month-Spotlight–John-Cromwell–Jr.html?soid=1102720152407&aid=zVOqFLF36cg AND https://prospectingprofessor.blogs.com/prospecting_professor/2005/10/john_cromwell_p.html).
An interesting aside, Cromwell, Jr.’s father, John Wesley Cromwell, Sr., was a successful historian, writer, educator, lawyer, and organizer during and after the Reconstruction era (see https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/wesley-john-cromwell-1846-1927/ AND https://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/web/portal%20/john-wesley-cromwell-residence-african-american-heritage-trail). Cromwell, Sr. was also co-founder of the American Negro Academy, the first organization in the United States devoted to African-American scholarship (see https://www.thoughtco.com/american-negro-academy-45205). Other co-founders included luminaries Rev. Alexander Crummell and Paul Laurence Dunbar, as well Kelly Miller,
Likely inspired by Brother Cromwell, Jr.’s achievement, Brother Jesse B. Blayton, published an article in the June 1926 Oracle title, “The Negro and Accounting” (attached). In his article, Blayton provides an early framework for African American advancement in the accounting field – a framework you might agree has relevance today in advancing, more broadly, African American economic interests. Brother Blayton would go on to become the fourth African American to become a Certified Public Accountant in 1928 and to inspire other African Americans to do the same. Brother Blayton eventually served as Omega’s 10th Grand Keeper of Finance.
Lastly, the History and Archives Committee is interested in determining whether there is a connection between Omega and the founding of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), founded in 1969. Coincidentally (perhaps), NABA selected as its organizational motto, “Lifting As We Climb.” NABA’s founding members were Ronald Benjamin, Earl Biggett, Donald Bristow, Bertram Gibson, Kenneth Drummond, Richard McNamee, Frank Ross, George Wallace, Michael Winston. Some of these names appear in the Omega member directory with initiation dates that reasonably coincide with the individuals’ potential involvement in NABA’s founding. However, the Committee has yet to find information confirming any of NABA’s members were Omega men. Please help us pull on this thread if you can. If you have any information confirming whether or not Omega men were involved with NABA’s founding, please share with the Committee.
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 email@example.com.