The Beginning: October 1, 1920
Mu Omega chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, was founded in the year 1920 as a graduate chapter in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The chapter was originally designated as Mu chapter but in 1923 under Grand Basileus J. Alston Atkins, chapters were renamed in order to distinguish the graduate from the undergraduate chapters.
It was in 1923 that the undergraduate chapter was founded at the University of Pennsylvania. Mu was the designation given to the new undergraduate chapter and Mu Omega was given to the graduate chapter. Mu Omega at its founding was the second graduate chapter in the fraternity along with ten undergraduate chapters.
Prominent Chapter Members
Mu Omega's rolls have always listed many famous and outstanding Omega Men, many who have held national fraternal offices at one time or another. Oscar J. Cooper, one of our beloved founders, led the fraternity as the second Grand Basileus in 1912, the first Grand Keeper of Records and Seal in 1911, and the second Keeper of Finance in 1913. Julius McLain, besides being Basileus of Mu Omega in 1925, went on to become the third First Vice Grand Basileus in the same year. Later he became the twelfth Grand Basileus in 1926. Mifflin T. Gibbs, served as the tenth First Vice Grand Basileus in 1939. Joseph T. Brooks, a relative of a current Mu Omega brother, was the second Vice Grand Basileus in 1946 and the sixteenth First Vice Grand Basileus in 1955. Father H. Albion Farrell also served as a Grand Chaplain. Daniel B. Taylor served as our ninth Grand Keeper of Finance in 1925.
Robert N. C. Nix, Sr. although not a grand office, distinguished himself in Pennsylvania politics and was subsequently elected to the House of Representatives of the United States by the Fourth Congressional District of Pennsylvania. William H. Hastie was the first recipient of the fraternity's outstanding citizen of the year award. He was also the first Black appointed to the federal judiciary. William Hastie resigned as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War in protest against discrimination in the Armed Forces. He was later appointed Governor of the Virgin Islands by President Truman.
William C. Jason, Jr. founder of Mu (undergraduate) chapter was a pioneer in the labor rights fight in the Postal system.
Terrel D. Parris, past Basileus of Mu Omega chapter and a past 2nd District Representative, was elected to Grand Keeper of Records and Seal at the 72nd Grand Conclave in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2002 and was re-elected for another term at the 73rd Grand Conclave in St. Louis, Missouri in 2004.
Housing in the early stages of Mu Omega (Graduate) Chapter was primarily for meeting purposes. These meetings were initially held in various brothers houses. As the chapter membership grew and the need for larger quarters became apparent, these meetings were then moved to a Methodist church in Germantown, Sunnycrest Farms in Cheyney, the Fairview Golf Club, St. Luke's Episcopal Church and the Christian Street YMCA. These arrangements satisfied the need for space but stability of location and a facility for storing property became an overriding force. Additionally, these quarters were becoming too small. It was at this time that talk of purchasing a house began.
The Chapter purchased its first house at 49 North 54th Street around 1953. The whole house was originally used for fraternal activities but later the first and second floors were converted into apartments and meetings and gatherings were restricted to the renovated basement. Around 1968, Mu Chapter (Intermediate) purchased a house at 218 East Price Street. Mu Omega (Graduate) Chapter began to share this facility but realized that it needed its own place to accommodate its growing needs. While the chapter was meeting at St. Luke's during 1971, the Housing Committee was formed for the sole purpose of purchasing a house. The brothers held a raffle, made pledges and instituted the Holiday (Christmas) Dance to generate monies for a down payment.
On February 13, 1973, Mu Omega purchased 431 East Locust Avenue (top) with a down payment of $7,500 and a mortgage of $15,000. The chapter used funds from the assessment of $100 per brother, rental income from the 54th Street property and revenue from the Holiday Dance to maintain the Locust Avenue property and to pay off the mortgage. Continual improvements to the house were made possible through donations of property, additional pledges of from $200 to $1,000 and designated gifts. Brother Dr. Roland Lucas, for whom the third floor lounge was named, played a significant part in the early development of the house. On March 3, 1978, the 54th Street property was sold at final settlement for $12,730. In 1980, $50,000 was spent on renovations for the Locust Avenue property and in 1988 the mortgage was retired.
The Philadelphia area chapters became incorporated in 1953 as a non-profit corporation known as the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity of Philadelphia. The purpose of the corporation was to promote fraternal and civic interest among its members and to encourage and propagate the principles of good citizenship. The corporation did not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit, incidental or otherwise, to its members. Some of the Mu Omega brothers who signed the charter were Daniel B. Taylor, Charles Tyree, Mifflin T. Gibbs, Oscar J. Cooper, William H. Hastie, Herbert Cain, William C. Jason, Jr., Paul Jackson, Leroy Jenkins and Robert Ximines. There were 28 other signers.
Social functions over the years have included a weekend Mardi Gras, Formal Dance, Holiday Dance, Boat Ride, After Work Parties, Cabarets, Bowling Parties, Gospelrama, Cruise to Nowhere and a Caribbean cruise. In 1966 the Mardi Gras was entertained by the jazz sounds of Duke Ellington and his band.
Civic activities have included Talent Hunts, scholarship awards, career conferences for Junior High School students, mentorships, Big Brother sponsorship, voter registration drives, mentors for Dr. Ruth Hayre's "Tell Them We are Rising" program, Annual Alzheimer's Memory Walk, Sickle Cell Awareness Walk, active participation in our local neighborhood association (PANA) and community workshops. In February 1979 the brothers instituted the donations of food baskets to needy families in the Germantown area in honor of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. The program was renamed the James Minton Food Drive and gives out close to 100 baskets to the needy. In December, 1982 under Basileus A. J. Wells, Mu Omega raised $45,000 and donated $25,000 to UNCF. Mu Omega joined the local Penn Area Neighborhood Association (PANA) in 1996 under Basileus David R. Benson through the advisement of past Basileus Arthur Bowman. PANA consists of residents and businesses in the area surrounding the Fraternity house. Brother James Mock became president in 2000 and moved the organization to its highest level of community involvement and uplift. PANA joined with the Chapter's James Minton Food Drive and contributed hundreds of toys to go along with the food baskets. In 1998, Mu Omega initiated the Charles R. Drew Memorial Blood Drive which today seeks 1000 pints of blood. Through the hard and diligent work of Brother Dr. Allan E. Thomas, this program was adopted by the International body and is now a National Mandate. Mu Omega Chapter was honored in 2004 as an Outstanding Community Group by the Pennsylvania/New Jersey region of the American Red Cross. The Award was in recognition of the Chapter’s ongoing commitment to the Cooperative Sickle Cell Donor Program through its implementation of the Charles R. Drew Memorial Blood Drive.
Growth of the Brotherhood
The membership of Mu Omega has grown throughout the years from 40 members in 1955 to a high of close to 200 fully financial brothers. This has been due in part to a number of factors: First the Constitutional Convention in December 1969 in Atlanta limited the time a brother could remain in an intermediate chapter after graduation. This caused an influx of outstanding men from Mu chapter into Mu Omega. Second was the introduction of Lampados clubs in 1973 to the chapter. Mu Omega initiated several pledge lines starting in 1973 and brought in over 100 new brothers. Mu Omega has emerged as one of the most outstanding chapter in the nation.
Current Living Past Basilei
Howard M. James, Jr. , Basileus 2016 - Present
Garfield L Jackson, Sr., Basileus 2014-2016
Anthony S. Jones, Basileus 2012-2014
Steven C. Oakman, Basileus 2010-2012
Jesse R. Reason, Basileus 2008-2010
Alan W. Junius, Basileus 2006-2008
William Smith, Basileus 2004 - 2006
William L. Dent III, Basileus 2002 - 2004
Dr. Allan Thomas, Basileus 2000 - 2002
C. Wade Mosely, Basileus 1998 - 2000
David Benson, Basileus 1996 - 1998
Terrel Parris, Basileus 1994 - 1996
Kenneth Harper, Basileus 1992 - 1994
Arthur Bowman , Basileus 1990 - 1992
Frederick Foard, Basileus 1988 - 1990
Sidney Estes, Basileus 1986 - 1988
Dr. William Harris, Basileus 1985 - 1986