This Third District History supplement was inspired by and is dedicated to Brother Dr. Vernon E. Johnson who wrote the history of the “Origin of the current Third District” and served as the District Representative for the Third District of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. during the years 1983-1986.
Brother Johnson’s history is the cornerstone of this project which is to complete what he started. For many years the Commonwealth of Virginia stood alone as the Fourth District. Our goal is to supplement what has been written by adding elements of what was deemed as the Third District which included Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. 1
For a moment lets step back in time to the Philadelphia Conclave in December 1922 when the Grand Chapter amended the Fraternity’s constitution to include the establishment of five geographical districts and the creation of the “District Representative” position. These District Representatives were selected by Grand Basileus J. Alston Atkins, and were to serve as his representative in the field under the supervision of the also newly formed office of the Vice Grand Basileus, which the chapters would subsequently ratify in 1923. 2
The first five District Representatives appointed were Brothers: Charles White for the New England States, Carter L. Marshall for the Mid Atlantic States which included what was to become the Third District, L.R. Hill for the Central States, William J. Faulkner for the Southern and George L. Vaughn for the Western States. 3
There are some facts in our history that still have to verified. For example in according to the 1934 ORACLEs the Third District was listed as Delaware, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia were in the Fourth District. Then in the September 1934 ORACLE, Ohio is listed as being in the Tenth District. In the June 1935 ORACLE, Pennsylvania and Ohio are listed as the Third District, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maryland are listed as the Fourth District with Virginia and West Virginia listed as the Eleventh District. In the March 1937 ORACLE which was published after the 1936 Conclave shows Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania as the Third District and Virginia alone as the Fourth District with Brother C. W. Seay as the District Representative.
At the 25th Annual Conclave held 28-30 December 1936, several proposals were suggested in regards to District and Traveling Representative. It is there Brother E. F. Corbett, requested that Virginia be made a separate district because it had problems different from those of the District of Columbia, Maryland and West Virginia.
On May 21, 1937 the then Third District (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania) held its first Annual Conference of the Third District in Pittsburgh, PA. with Brother C.R. Alexander presiding as the District Representative.
On December 30, 1938 the Supreme Council considered the redistricting of the Fraternity to a more logical geographical basis. However, in 1939 with the then Third District remaining the same Brother Wendell P. Grisby is listed as the District Representative.
At the Nashville Conclave in 1940 the Fraternity considered again to redistrict its chapters. In December of 1941 the Fraternity was redistricted into twelve districts.
In 1947, the Third District was list as Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia with the chartering of Psi Iota and Nu Upsilon Chapters and Brother Dr. Harry T. Penn served as the District Representative. In December of 1947 he would become the 19th Grand Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (Grand Chapter) Inc.
In 1947, Brother Thomas H. Shields became the Third District Representative of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (Grand Chapter) Inc.
At the Eighth District Conference on May 11-13, 1956 the Eight and Eleventh Districts merged to reform the Eight District and Brother Harvey V. McDaniel has the distinction of being the last Eleventh District Representative of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.,4 Maryland moved to the Second District leaving the Historical Third District as we know it today of being the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Third currently has 42 chapters and approximately 1500 members. A member of the district has held every Grand Office. We have had several members serve as Grand Basileus dating back to the Founders, men initiated at Alpha Chapter and Camp Howard. We are also proud of the eight undergraduates that served as 2nd Vice Grand Basileus. The District of Columbia has held 10 Grand Conclaves most notably were the 50th Golden Anniversary in 1961, 75th Diamond Anniversary in 1986 and the 100th Centennial Anniversary in 2011. Virginia has held only one Grand Conclave, the 20th, in Richmond in 1932.
Our most recent Grand Officers include Brother Jamin Powell, 40th 2nd Vice Grand Basileus, and Brother Curtis Baylor – Grand Keeper of Records and Seals and Brother Kenneth Brown was the Grand Marshall for the Centennial Conclave.
New chapters chartered since 1995 include Omicron Kappa Kappa “OKK” Chapter is 1996, Sigma Kappa Kappa Chapter in 1997, Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter in 2004, Zeta Mu Mu Chapter in 2008– and Sigma Mu Mu Chapter in 2011.
Both Pi Lambda Lambda and Sigma Mu Mu Chapters have won International Social Action Chapter of Year and Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter International Chapter of the Year in their early years. In 2014, Pi Nu Chapter won International Small Chapter and Social Action Chapter of the year. Eta Delta Delta Chapter won Undergraduate Chapter of the Year.
With the good, great or outstanding of the Third District being the birth place of OMEGA we are not surprised to learn of some of the ‘firsts” this historical district holds. One of course being the first fraternity founded on an historically black college or university. Brother John W. Love was the first member to serve as Vice Grand Basileus; In 1919 the first meeting to discuss an Interfraternity Conference was held at Howard University between the Omega Psi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternities5; In 1922 the first National Inter-Fraternity/Sorority Conference (became known as the Pan-Hellenic Council) was held in Washington D.C.6; In 1948, Alpha Chapter was the first undergraduate chapter to host a Third District Meeting. The District Marshal was Brother Floyd C. Kennedy7; Brother Curtis Baylor who served as our District Representative was the first undergraduate Life Member #50. Brothers Kenneth and Larry Brown were the first siblings to serve on the Supreme Council; Regrettably we also are known for having the first Brother to be expelled and reinstated.8