The History of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is the first international fraternal organization founded on the campus of a historically black college.
On the evening of November 17, 1911, Omega Psi Phi was founded inside the Science Building (later renamed Thirkield Hall) at Howard University located in Washington, D.C. The founders were three undergraduates — Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman. Joining them was their faculty adviser, Ernest Everett Just.
From the initials of the Greek phrase meaning, “friendship is essential to the soul“, the name Omega Psi Phi was derived. That phrase was selected as the motto.
Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift were adopted as Cardinal Principles.
On November 23, 1911, Edgar A. Love became the first Grand Basileus (National President). Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman were selected to be the Grand Keeper of the Records (National Secretary) and Grand Keeper of Seals (National Treasurer), respectively. Eleven undergraduate men were selected to become the charter members.
Alpha chapter was organized with fourteen charter members on December 15, 1911. Brothers Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman were elected the chapter’s first Basileus, Keeper of Records, and Keeper of Seals, respectively.
Brother Cooper became the fraternity’s second Grand Basileus in 1912 and authorized the investigation of establishing a second chapter on the campus of Lincoln University located in Pennsylvania.
Brother Love was elected as the third Grand Basileus in 1912 and served until 1915. In 1912, Howard University officials did not initially recognize the fraternity as a national organization and Omega Psi Phi’s leadership refused to accept limited recognition. As a result, the fraternity operated without official sanction, until the university withdrew its opposition in 1914, the same year Beta chapter was chartered at Lincoln University.
Omega Psi Phi was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on October 28, 1914. Brother George E. Hall, the fourth Grand Basileus, authorized the establishment of Gamma chapter in Boston.