Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is the first international fraternal organization to be founded on the campus of a historically black college.
On Friday evening, November 17, 1911, three Howard University undergraduate students, with the assistance of their faculty adviser, gave birth to the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. This event occurred in the office of biology Professor Ernest E. Just, the faculty adviser, in the Science Hall (now known as Thirkield Hall). The three liberal arts students were Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper, and Frank Coleman. From the initials of the Greek phrase meaning “friendship is essential to the soul,” the name Omega Psi Phi was derived. The phrase was selected as the motto. Manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift were adopted as cardinal principles. A decision was made regarding the design for the pin and emblem, and thus ended the first meeting of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
The next meeting was conducted on November 23, 1911. Edgar Love became the first Grand Basileus (National President). Cooper and Coleman were selected Grand Keeper of the Records (National Secretary) and Grand Keeper of Seals (National Treasurer), respectively. Eleven Howard University undergraduate men were selected as charter members. Alpha Chapter was organized with fourteen charter members on December 15, 1911. Love, Cooper, and Coleman were elected the chapter’s first Basileus, Keeper of Records, and Keeper of Seals, respectively. On March 8, 1912, the previously submitted fraternity constitution was rejected by the Howard University Faculty Council. The Faculty Council proposed to accept the fraternity as a local but not a national organization. The fraternity refused acceptance as a strictly local organization.
Oscar Cooper became the fraternity’s second Grand Basileus in 1912. Cooper authorized the investigation of a proposed second chapter at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. Howard University withdrew its opposition and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on October 28, 1914.