Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Purple & Gold Jazz Affair
Meeting new challenges

By Jonathan Gramling

    Just looking around the room at the Gamma Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Achievement Week Luncheon on November 22 at the
Sheraton Hotel, one could easily see why achievement has always been part of the fraternity’s legacy. Doctors, business owners, lawyers and managers filled the
room with their spouses and friends, reflecting the achievements of the three college students who founded Omega Psi Phi on the Howard University campus
back in 1911 and went on to distinctive careers in their chosen fields.
    And while most would tend to rest on the laurels that the Omega Psi Phi men have achieved, for Climent Edmond Jr., the events keynote speaker, it is not
enough. “For the past several months, every person in the United States of America has been bombarded with the notion that there is a need for change in our
society,” Edmonds said. “We’ve been told we need to not only change America, but we also need change in Omega Psi Phi fraternity. We need change in
Omega in order to preserve our legacy of greatness. We need change in order to propel us forward in the 21st century. We can no longer live our Omega lives
with no regards for our future. We can no longer tolerate apathy and inequality. We must embrace change and we must move forward with a clear vision.”
Edmunds reflected on the election of Barack Obama as President. “Ladies and gentleman, most of us have an idea of how profound the moment was for us
when President-Elect Barack Obama went past the threshold of 270 electoral votes,” Edmund said. “For African Americans in these United States and those of us
who know full well the struggles those before us had to bear, it was a wonderful moment. President-Elect Obama delivered a torch that so many others before
him carried year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice that we as African Americans
were seeking and have been seeking for so very long. As I witness the evolution of President-Elect Obama, I can’t help but shed tears of joy that finally the
African American male in this country has been recognized for who we really are and the contributions that we have made to this country are recognized. But
for our blood, sweat and tears, America would not be here. I cry for all of those who started the Middle Passage journey, but never made it. I cry for all of our
ancestors who were slaves in this country and never lost faith that their people would one day rise up. I shed tears of joy for all those who marched and died in
the civil rights movement, but yet, I have no doubt was watching this dream materialize high from the heavens above. The victory alone is not the change that
America seeks, but rather the chance to make that change. That is our obligation now. That can not happen without a new spirit of service and without a new
spirit of sacrifice. This is our time to shine, to put our people back to work and finally open all those doors of opportunity that have been slammed in our faces for
all too many years, to claim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that as long as we can breathe, we can hope as long as we can dream.”
In light of the many difficulties that the country faces — domestically and internationally — Edmund feels the members of Omega Psi Phi can play a role in
meeting those challenges. “Brothers, our communities have been devastated by the financial crisis that rivals only the stock markets that crashed in 1929 and
pushed us into the Great Depression,” Edmunds said. “That we face again today. In these perilous times with an uncertain future hanging in the balance, serving
leadership of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, the greatest fraternity in this world, we need leaders to step up. We need a light well-lit again that will take us from a
darkened world. Our communities are in turmoil, my Brothers and each and every one of us today and those not here are needed. There is not a brother to spare
for the work that is needed to be done.”
    And it is the core values of the fraternity that make its members ready to step up and be counted. “The founders adopted four principles: manhood,
scholarship, perseverance and uplift,” Edmund observed. “To the fraternity, manhood means character, one who dares to do all that becomes a man. They put
manhood first because character is more essential as we look for prospects in Omega than anything else. Second is scholarship. There’s a place for mediocrity
in our society, but not in Omega, never in Omega. We are men whose minds are at least above the average norm that they can make a contribution to the life of
an institution and to this world. Third is perseverance. They wanted men who realized that they have a responsibility to stand by any project that they start and to
see it through to the end. And finally there is uplift, which puts man in connection with his community, the community where he lives and lets him realize that
he has a responsibility to those who are less fortunate than himself. He must also do what he does with the idea of service to the community and to the nation.
You bring all of these attributes together and Brothers, we have the true essence of an Omega man.”
    But above all else, what allows Omega men to step forward is friendship.  “Friendship is the tie that binds men together,” Edmund said. “You have to accept
your blood relatives whether you want them or not. They are wished upon you and I am certain a lot of us have some that we wish weren’t on us at times. But you
choose your friends, ladies and gentlemen, you choose your friends. And friendship is always motivated by love, always motivated by love. And love always
speaks not in terms of itself, but in terms of those whom the individual may love. So Brothers, let’s keep that love upfront and out front when we think of the ideals
of this fraternity that our founders set forth.”
    In closing, Edmunds urged the audience to be prepared for change. “Brothers, we made vows and we took an oath,” Edmund emphasized. “It is time we
honored our word. Let us keep our promises to be better men, to be better stewards of God’s blessings, to live out our lives as kings and walk honorably in the
glory of manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. My Brothers, let us be the leaders of a new generation of Omega men.”
Clockwise from upper left: Rodney Hopkins (l-r), Sherron Hopkins, Cassaundra
Edwards, the Omega Citizen of the Year and Jay Edwards; Pastor Harold
Rayford makes his saxophone sing; 2008 National High School Essay Winner
Ebony Balele (r) and her mom Jeanette;

The Brothers of Omega Psi Phi: Sitting (L-R): Alex Beamon, Climent Edmond, Jr.,
Willie Larkin; Row 1: A guest, Rob Davis, Anthony Davis, Shannon Blackamore;
Row 2:  Brian Russell, Oli Todd, Anthony Lindsey, Arras Martin, Sean Leavy;
Row3: A guest, Richard Watkins, Jason Blocker, Deron Coleman, Rob Day,
Louis Adams, Relious Stepherson; Row 4:  David McCullum, Rodney Hopkins,
Percy Brown, Jr., Mike Johnson, Robert Jackson, Chad Davis, Ed Smyth,
Langston Evans, Ruben Cotton; Row 5; Alphonso Cooper, Fred Green, Charles
Brown, Arling Davis, Donald Strong , Percy Brown, Sr., Erick Tyrone,Ron Brown,
Demetrius Williams, Ron Smith, the 2008 Omega Man of the Year, Harold
Rayford; Row 6: Walt Buckhanan, Alphonso Cornish, Carlos Harper, Ron
Bridgewater, Dennis McClain, Lionel Norton;

Keynote speaker Climent Edmond Jr., Omega Psi Phi’s 10th district
representative; Langston Evans, Achievement Week Chair; Chapter Basilues
Willie Larkin (l) addresses the luncheon as Langston Evans looks on.