Greetings Brothers!

When doing some research/reading a week or so ago about some of the men who early in the Fraternity’s history entered the fold by way of honorary membership, I was intrigued by some of the less familiar (or perhaps more accurately, less celebrated) names listed as honorary members in the early Oracles and Dreer and Gill history books. We are all familiar with and celebrate the lives, accomplishments, and contributions of Ernest E. Just, Colonel Charles Young, and Dr. Carter G. Woodson, but I wondered to myself how many of us know much of the same about Gordon David Houston, Garnet C. Wilkinson, or  William Pickens, and others? And, if we knew more about these brothers, how might we also celebrate our association with their example. Perhaps even equally useful, what might the caliber of men particularly distinguished in their qualifications for membership during the Fraternity’s infancy tell us about what the standards for honorary or elected membership should be today. 

Although there were others, I decided to learn more about Houston, Wilkinson, and Pickens. Because I knew a bit about Houston and Wilkinson already, I ended up spending most of my time researching William Pickens. In the end, I surmised that all deserved further study and celebration. I also discovered that their qualifications corresponded to the values and priorities of the Fraternity leading up to and during the time of their election. For example, as much as the Fraternity’s sinew comes from the spirit of friendship, the Fraternity’s original sense of agency was born out of and response to the New Negro phenomenon of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. According to historian Henry Louis Gates, the New Negro was “young, educated, post-slavery, modern, culturally sophisticated” and preoccupied with “rising,” “progress,” and “elevation.” This new paradigm informed and was reflected in the Fraternity’s cardinal principles.
Houston, Wilkinson, and Pickens all fit the bill; that is to say, their qualifications were relevant to the Fraternity’s values and related priorities. While the examples are numerous, here are a few online resources containing information on William Pickens:
Below are some old newspaper clippings featuring Pickens. These are really revealing of Pickens’ significance during the 1st half of the 20th century. Check these out!
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