At the turn of the 20th century, American colleges and universities began to admit more and more students of African descent. In addition, colleges and universities established solely to support the education of the so called “negro” began to expand physically and interests in other non-scholarly endeavors started to emerge among students. Prior to this period, a well-known social order called the “fraternity” was established in the 18th century at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The members of this fraternity named it Phi Beta Kappa and for 50 years it proliferated as a secret social organization. During that time, other fraternities were established at other colleges, each taking on a 3 letter Greek designation and in some cases 2 Greek letters were used as was the case with Kappa Alpha. All of these organizations thrived and became social havens for the elite college man. They were not open to membership for African descendants.
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The exclusion of the African American student from the traditionally white fraternities did not satisfy many who longed to fellowship and socialize in a fraternal organization. Because of the fears of many Americans about the establishment of secret social orders for African Americans, fraternities and sororities were not favorable avenues or options. This trend was challenged however 1906 with the establishment of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Shortly thereafter, Alpha Kappa Alpha was formed on the campus of Howard University but remained a local organization until incorporation and expansion became an issue later in the decade. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., was formed in Indiana in February of 1911.
Not satisfied with the offerings of Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi, Oscar Cooper, Frank Coleman and Edgar Love consulted with Professor Ernest E. Just to establish a new fraternity at the campus of Howard University in our nation's capital. Working with Professor Just and against the wishes of several unnamed faculty members on campus, they established the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated on November 17, 1911 at 9PM in Thirkield Hall, then a building dedicated to the sciences. The fraternity credits Professor Just as a founder as well and together with the 3 undergraduate students Love, Cooper, and Coleman, they incorporated the fraternity into a nation organization in December 1914.
More on the fraternity's history:
You can find a detailed outline of the history of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. at www.oppf.org. The information provided in this brief overview is intended to capture the essence of the history and only highlights some of the historical facts about Omega.