On Friday November 17, 1911, undergraduate students Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper, Frank Coleman, with the help of Professor Ernest E. Just, founded the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Howard University in Washington D. C. On December 15, 1911, Alpha Chapter was formed at Howard University. On February 6, 1914, Beta Chapter was formed at the home of Sister Lottie B. Wilson for students of Lincoln University. In March of 1917, Gamma Chapter was organized for students in the Boston, Massachusetts’s area. In January of 1919, Delta Chapter was chartered for students at Fisk University and Meharry Medical College.
The Birth of “Mighty” Epsilon Chapter
In 1919, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity bestowed upon New York City, her fifth chapter. On April 18, 1919, at the home of Brother A. Merral Willis, located at 24 W. 140th Street nine Omega men gathered, and chartered the “Mighty” Epsilon Chapter. Epsilon Chapter was organized for students attending Columbia University, New York University, City College of New York, and other institutions of higher learning in New York City. The charter members of Epsilon Chapter were Brothers A. Merral Willis, (charter member of Beta Chapter), Raymond George Robinson (7th Grand Basileus and charter member of Beta Chapter), Hastings E. Tompkins (Beta Chapter ‘16), John Gordon Dingle (Alpha Chapter ’13), James Burnett Ford (Alpha ’12), Osceola E. McKaine (Des Moines, Iowa War Chapter 16/Gamma Chapter ’17), Henry M. Marlowe (charter member of Beta Chapter), W. P. Stanley (Beta ’ Fall ‘14), and J. Herd Huddleson.
With the foundation in place, the brothers now had to select the men who would lead her in the right direction. Epsilon’s first officers were Brothers A. Merral Willis, Basileus, Osceola E. McKaine, Keeper of Records, J. Herd Huddleson, Keeper of Seals, and Hastings E. Tompkins, Chaplain. These were the first of many loyal sons of Omega who would lead Epsilon Chapter.
Epsilon: The Early Years (1919-1939)
After being organized in the late spring of 1919, Epsilon had to start strengthening her foundation. Immediately reclamation was an important key to Epsilon’s building. As the Founders did in the beginning, the brothers of Epsilon Chapter were responsible for selecting the best. Each man was to be measured by Omega’s four Cardinal Principles, Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift. On December 18, 1920 Epsilon Chapter met that challenge and initiated the following men Louis H. Berry, a student at General Theological Seminary, Nathaniel A. Burrell Jr. of Columbia University, Arthur M. Williams and his brother Vivian L. Williams of New York University. They would be the first of many worthy men to be initiated into Omega through the “Mighty” Epsilon Chapter.
In the twenties, the Fraternity introduced an organized pledge club to its chapters. Called the Lampados Club, it allowed young men to demonstrate their worthiness to Omega. It provided the tools for a Lampado to become a true Omega Man. In 1929, Epsilon Chapter organized its first Lampados Club. Members of the first Lampados Club were Kenneth Bailey, Arthur Bolden, Clark S. Brown (President), Cornelius L. Davis (Secretary), Edward Graham, Ralph W. Green, Reddy Hilliard, Ray Howard, William Johnson (Reporter), Richard Kennard, John C. Lord Jr., Percy C. Marks, Irving H. Selden, and. Alva Wilson, (Treasurer). The Epsilon Lampados Club would have as its members some of Omega’s finest sons.
As Epsilon grew, it also helped expand Omega. On December 24, 1924 along with Brothers Percie E. Newbie, Henry T. Jackson, Stanley M. Douglas of Alpha, Arthur M. Williams (Epsilon Chapter ’20), Carl Granger (Epsilon Chapter ’22), George H. Seon (Epsilon Chapter ’22), and Herbert Weisiger (Kappa Chapter ’22) helped charter Zeta Psi Chapter at the home of future Omega legend Edward H. Taylor in Brooklyn, New York. Almost two years later, Epsilon would once again help in the forming of a new chapter. On November 11, 1926 along with Edward E. Best, Richard E. Carey, Arthur Donnelly, and James W. T. Granady, Epsilon’s Nathaniel A. Burrell Jr. (Epsilon Chapter ’20), Lisle C. Carter (Epsilon Chapter ’22), Conrad A. Edwards (Epsilon Chapter ’23), and F. Theodore Reid helped charter Xi Phi Chapter. As the oldest chapter in the great metropolis, Epsilon would have a hand in the development of other city chapters.
Twice in her first twenty years, Epsilon Chapter co-hosted the national convention of the Fraternity. In December of 1927, the 16th Grand Conclave opened business at the Community House of St. Mark’s M. E. Church in New York City. Epsilon, Xi Phi, and Upsilon Phi were the host chapters. Brother Ira De A. Reid of Epsilon was Grand Marshall. The Committee consisted of Brothers A. N. Burris, George W. Reid, George Goodman, A. Lester of Epsilon, Malcom Dodson, William A. McCoy, and Stanley M. Douglas of Zeta Psi, and James T. Granady and Ira De A. Reid of Xi Phi Chapter. It was the first of three Conclaves to be co-hosted by Epsilon Chapter. In December 1939, the 28th Grand Conclave was held in New York City from December 27-30, of 1939 the 28th Grand Conclave was held in New York City. The Conclave, which opened business in the Little Theatre of the Harlem Branch of the YMCA, located at 180th W. 135th Street NYC. Brother Connie W. Jenkins of Epsilon was the Grand Marshall.
Over the course of her history, Epsilon has hosted numerous programs and activities. In the twenties and thirties, the chapter annually sponsored a Colonel Charles Young Memorial Service Program. This program presented guest the opportunity to hear prominent members of the community speak on important topics. Epsilon had informal smokers that allowed the same forum of guest speakers. At one such program in 1932, Brother Nathaniel A. Burrell Jr., a Probation Officer in the Children’s Court; spoke about “Juvenile Delinquency, Neglected Children, and Social Work Among Negroes”. In keeping with the Fraternity’s tradition, the chapter also sponsored a Negro Achievement Week Program. This Program was broadcast over National Broadcast Company Radio (NBC).
The Chapter also made annual contributions to the Urban League, and the Young Men’s Christian Association.
Scholastically, during the twenties and thirties Epsilon participated in inter-fraternal debates at the local colleges. At these annual debates the Omegas would debate against a team of either Alphas or Kappas. These debates where based upon hot issues of the times. In a debate against the Kappas on March 4, 1927 one such topic was the canceling of the allied war debt. People from all over New York City were welcomed to attend. These debates were highly anticipated. While the debates provided academic challenge to each participating group, they also helped developed a needed unity amongst the fraternal organizations of Harlem and New York City. Epsilon entered the annual debates in the spring of 1924.
In athletics, the Chapter participated in the Eastern Inter-Fraternal Basketball League from the early twenties well into the late forties. In the twenties some of the Chapter’s hoop heroes were Robert Payne, William McCoy, Al McNicholas, Theodore Daniels, James Sessoms, Herschel “Ripp” Day, and his brother Howard B. Day. In the thirties, other hoop heroes were Richard Kennard, Robert Ford, Reggie Goodwin, Grant Reynolds, William Webb, Rozier Hansborough, Clarence Lee, Andrew Goodal, and Kenneth Bailey. The basketball team was dominant during this period, winning numerous championships during the twenties and thirties.
The Chapter had all the bases covered socially. A main activity of the chapter during these years was the annual formal dance. The formal was so popular that at times it played witness to over 800 people. The Chapter co-hosted a number of dances with Xi Phi Chapter. On February 10, 1927 the Epsilon and Xi Phi Chapters sponsored the annual dance. In 1931, Epsilon and Xi Phi hosted a formal dance at the Renaissance Casino in New York. The dance drew approximately 1000 guests.
On November 16, 1929 the Chapter held a Founders Day Banquet at the Dumas Dining Room. The guest speaker was former Grand Basileus George E. Hall. Grand Basileus Julius S. McClain was the honored guest. On April 4, 1934 the Epsilon and Xi Phi chapters hooked up again to host another spring formal at the Renaissance Casino. While the Chapter conducted business throughout the year, it suspended activities during the summer months. In 1930, Epsilon saw a need to organize a summer chapter to coordinate activities for brothers during their vacations. There were several social gatherings, and including a bridge party sponsored that summer. One activity that started that summer would become an Omega legend.
On July 22,1930, the newly organized Summer Chapter hosted a mid-summer boat ride up the Hudson River to Hook Mountain. It was the first of a many such rides. In 1935, Epsilon hosted a free boatride for brothers and their guests. Then in 1936, Brother Homer Q. Smith and Mifflin T. Gibbs organized the famous Omega Showboat. The first Omega Showboat set sail on August 21, 1936 on the iron steam ship named the “Clermont” which had a capacity for 3000 guests. Epsilon hosted the Omega Showboat annually until the beginning of World War II. After the war ended, the Showboat was re-established in 1948.
The first Showboat Executive Committee consisted of Brothers Bertrand W. Green (Chairman), Mifflin T. Gibbs, Connie W. Jenkins, Nathaniel A. Burrell Jr., Dr. Eugene Brandon, C. L. Maxey, S. Malcolm Dodson, Gordon Croques, Robert E. Payne, Julius S. McClain (Grand Basileus), Robert Macon, Homer Q. Smith, Dr. Charles Gibson, Richard O. Berry, Ashton C. Kitchens, Dr. Hayes Burnett, and L. Chappelle Glenn. The Concession Committee consisted of Brothers Howard Bouchet Day (Chairman), Philip Jones, Cyril marks, Robert E. Payne, and C. L. Maxey. Finally the Souvenir Program Committee consisted of Brothers Gordon Croques (Chairman), Dudley Clark (Consultant), Richard O. berry (Advertising), S. Malcolm Dodson (Art), and Irving H. Seldon (Editor)
Along with the dancing, the Showboat showcased the voices of the popular Epsilon Glee Club. Established in 1935, the Glee Club had roughly 30 members. Brothers James A. Watson, Herman L. James, Dudley A. Clark, Donald D. Adams, Forrest L. Blount, Mifflin T. Gibbs, William McCoy, George M. Dannelly, John L. Butler, Theodore A. Neely, J. Burke Horne, Irving H. Selden, Richard O. Berry, were some of the brothers in the Glee Club. Homer Q. Smith and Edward G. Jackson were the Co-Directors of the Glee Club.
As the thirties drew to a close, Epsilon Chapter was ending two decades of distinction. During its first twenty years, the Chapter played host to numerous programs and activities. Epsilon benefited from reclamation and her pledge clubs. The Chapter was founded during the end of World War I. It survived the Great Depression, and sailed into World War II.
Epsilon: The War Years (1940-1948)
The forties began with the United States entrance into World War II. Omega Men all over were called to action. Brothers Colonel Chauncey M. Hooper, Captain Grant Reynolds, (Chaplain), 1st Lieutenant Lawrence E. Taylor, Private Ashton C. Kitchens, William A. Traynham, and Woodrow W. Smith, (Army Intelligence-Languages), represented Epsilon Chapter in World War II. Back home Epsilon continued on. From 1939 until 1943, Brother Connie W. Jenkins served as Epsilon’s basileus. During this time, the Omega Showboat was suspended. The Chapter continued to host its annual formal dance, Achievement Week, as well as Informal Smokers.
On May 1, 1946 Epsilon and Xi Phi, co-hosted a welcome back party for returning service men. Over two hundred Omega men from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania attended the Post War Spring Formal Among the brothers returning home were Colonel Chauncey M. Hooper, Lieutenant Colonel Vernon C. Reddick, Captain Grant Reynolds, L. Chappelle Glenn (Red Cross), George E. Meares (USO), Thomas H. Madison, James A. Douglas, John L. Butler, Philip Jones, Clifford E. Bourne Jr., and Irving Green.
In 1947, the Chapter continued to participate in basketball tournaments throughout the city. The Chapter also sponsored a National Negro Achievement Week Program from November 2nd through the 9th. The program was conducted at the Frederick Douglas Junior High School in Manhattan. The theme was “Planning for Inter-group Undertaking”. The end of the war also meant the return of the Omega Showboat. On August 23, 1948, Epsilon Chapter once again set sail up the Hudson.
In 1947 Epsilon men helped in the formation of two new chapters in New York City. On September 25, 1948, brothers Howard B. Day, Clarence Lee, George E. Meares, along with Herschel “Ripp” Day, Theodore A. Neely, Harry Denny Jr., Bertrand W. Green, Augustus Jenkins, and Harry Jefferson, helped charter Kappa Omicron Chapter in the Bronx, New York. In October1948, Nu Omicron Chapter was formed in Queens, New York. Brother Eugene G. Brandon, Epsilon ’21 was a charter member. These chapters were organized for graduate men. The founding of Kappa Omicron would have a direct effect on Epsilon Chapter.
In the beginning of 1948, some brothers in Epsilon felt New York City would benefit from a new chapter. The National Headquarters granted a charter and on September 25, 1948 Kappa Omicron Chapter was formed with graduate brothers from Epsilon Chapter. Kappa Omicron would become one of Omega’s many outstanding chapters. Both chapters agreed that the Boatride would continue its success under the older brothers. Their departure left the chapter both young and eager.
Epsilon: Era of Transition (1948-1962)
Almost over night, the Chapter went from old and established, to young and unproven. While the brothers of Kappa Omicron offered guidance to the younger brothers of Epsilon, the younger brothers of also wanted to prove they were up to the task of continuing on by themselves. After the separation, Epsilon’s was left in the hands of Brother Chester N. Gibbs. The addition of transferred brothers like Alvin W. Strong, Lee Long, Smith Haines, Charles H. Matthews, Ellwood M. White, Clarence Griffith, and J. Jasper Spurling helped Brother Gibbs start the rebuilding of Epsilon.
In February of 1950, Brother Gibbs stepped aside as Basileus to relocate to Massachusetts to attend law school. The Chapter threw a farewell party in his honor. During his years in New York, Brother Gibbs had served Epsilon faithfully. In his departure, Brother Gordon Rowe took over as Basileus. The new decade found Epsilon continuing to rebuild. The chapter would continue to receive help from brothers like Alvin W. Strong, Leon B. Greene, Charles A. Brinkley, Charles Mathews, Rudolph W. Powell, William E. Mims, J. Jasper Spurling, and James E. Payne. The combination of transferring brothers and new initiates gave the chapter representation at Columbia, CCNY, NYU, Fordham, Brooklyn College, Queens College and other institutions throughout the city.
On June 18, 1950, Epsilon threw the “Q” Ball at the Celebrity Club on 125th Street in Harlem. In attendance were undergraduate students from the neighboring schools. As in the past, Epsilon also held its annual Achievement Week Program. In 1952, the chapter co-hosted an Achievement Week Program with Xi Phi, Kappa Omicron, Zeta Psi, Alpha Upsilon, and Nu Omicron. The chapter also participated in the Inter-Fraternal Basketball League. The chapter held local blood drives, and voter registrations in Harlem. As the fifties rolled on, so did the chapter.
In the spring of ’57, the chapter co-hosted a formal dance with Kappa Omicron Chapter. The following spring, the Chapter sponsored a Que Cabaret on May 2. Three weeks later the Chapter once again co-hosted a scholarship dance with Kappa Omicron Chapter. Heading into 1958, the Chapter and its Lampados Club organized an International Student Day. Finally in on September 9 1958 Epsilon along with Zeta Psi, Alpha Upsilon, Kappa Omicron, Nu Omicron, and Xi Phi hosted a bon voyage gathering for Founder Brother Edgar A. Love. Brother Love and his wife were traveling to Europe and Africa. After the celebration, all the chapters went back to planning the upcoming Conclave.
In 1959 from December 27 through December 30, Kappa Omicron, Alpha Upsilon, Nu Omicron, Xi Phi, Zeta Psi, and Epsilon co-hosted the 45th Grand Conclave at the Hotel New Yorker on 34th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan. Brother Edward H. Taylor of Alpha Upsilon Chapter was the Grand Marshall. Brother Robert “Bob” Addison was Vice Grand Marshall.
While at one point in its history, Epsilon had over two hundred brothers. The chapter once again was slowly getting smaller. In the past, when brothers left the chapter, new ones joined. Epsilon would not be as fortunate this time. Brothers began moving on to join graduate chapters in the city. Some brothers relocated, and other brothers had careers that dictated their Omega time. Yet, other brothers became inactive. From early 1960, until early 1962 the Chapter would be considered inactive.
Epsilon: The Resurgence (1962-1981)
From early 1960 to mid 1962, Epsilon Chapter was inactive. In 1962, Brother Robert H. Moore wrote National Executive Secretary Brother H. Carl Moultrie, in regards to Epsilon’s status. Brother Moultrie responded by mentioning that the chapter had become inactive. He also mentioned that it would take fifteen undergraduate brothers to be considered for reactivation. Over the course of the next few months, brothers rallied to do so. In December of ’62, Brother Robert Addison sent correspondence to the National Headquarters regarding the newly elected officers of the Chapter, and its reactivation. Some of the brothers involved in the reactivation were Robert H. Moore, Jim Sheppard-El, Arthur W. Ellis, Robert E. Addison, Elliot B. Bourne, Leonard M. Pitt Jr., Butler B. Dowery, Willie A. Goins, Robert Hylton, William Broadnax Jr., and Thomas Williams.
Beginning in 1963, the chapter sponsored a number of activities. Along with Xi Phi, Kappa Omicron, and Zeta Psi, Epsilon hosted a Talent Hunt Program. To show their support for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, the Chapter chartered a bus and ventured to Washington D. C. The Chapter also re-established its annual Achievement Week Program. At the 1963 program, the Chapter honored James Farmer National Director of Congress of Racial Equality as Citizen of the year. The following year Brother Milton Galiminson was honored as Citizen of the Year, for his work for Civil Rights. That year the Achievement Week Program was held at the Church of the Masters located on 122nd Street and Morningside Avenue in Harlem.
Socially the Chapter was involved in a number of events. In 1964 alone, the Chapter hosted a Sweetheart Party, a card party, a bowling party and two picnics. Finally on December 26, the Chapter co-hosted a New Years’ Eve Party with Zeta Psi, Omicron Iota, Kappa Omicron, and Alpha Upsilon Chapters.
In May, of 1965, the Chapter sponsored a program called the World’s Fair of Fashion. It was held at the New York Hilton on 53r Street and 6 Avenue. On November 14, 1965, Epsilon Chapter held its annual Achievement Week Program. The program was held at the Linden Boulevard Seven-Day Adventure Church in St Albans, Queens. The Chapter honored The Right Reverend Monsignor McLees of St. Pascal Babylon Parish as Citizen of the Year for his work in civil rights and human rights. The Chapter also honored Mr. Richard Clarke, founder of the Halmark Employment Agency of New York City and Chicago for his service in the field of employment.
In November of 1969, the Chapter celebrated its fiftieth anniversary at the annual Achievement Week Program held at Antum’s in Queens Village, New York. Guests of the black tie affair enjoyed cocktails and dinner, an awards ceremony, and a guest speaker. The evening was capped of with dancing. Brother Louis Rainford was chairman of the program. Heading into the seventies, the Chapter was on firm ground. Dedication and reclamation were the main reasons for the chapter’s resurgence. After a number of years, the chapter also held successful initiations. The Chapter crossed men in ‘64, ‘65, ‘66, ‘68, and ‘69. From these pledge clubs, a total of 25 men were initiated into the Fraternity. Epsilon’s overall success of the sixties would set the pace for the chapter for many years to come.
In the seventies the Chapter tackled several different programs and activities. The Chapter started producing a seasonal newsletter to help spread word of Epsilon’s activities. Brother Robert M. Hoyte served as Editor. The Chapter sponsored a program named Operation Athlete. This program gave high school athletes the opportunities to earn last minute scholarships from participating Black Colleges. The Chapter also supported the Martin Luther King Male Glee Club of Theodore Roosevelt High School by raising money to sponsor a two-week European tour.
The Chapter also made a toy contribution to Harlem Hospital. During this time, the Chapter sponsored a trip for a group of outpatients from the Developmental Clinic of the Jewish Hospital to the Morgan State versus Grambling game at Yankee Stadium. The Chapter continued to sponsor its annual Talent Hunt and Achievement Week programs. The Chapter also sponsored trips to historical Black Colleges. Cheyney, Morgan, and Maryland-Eastern Shore were some of the schools visited. One trip to Maryland Eastern Shore was attended by forty children from Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The chapter was also active socially, hosting or co-hosting boatride after parties with Kappa Omicron Chapter. One post boatride party, called “a Ship to Shore Roundup”, took place on August 4, 1972 at the Diplomat Hotel. The event featured the sounds of the Soul Invaders. Other post boatride parties were held at the Manhattan Center on 34 Street in Manhattan. The Chapter also sponsored a Memorial Day Weekend trip to Cherry Hill New Jersey to see Richard Pryor and the O’ Jays. Finally, Epsilon also hosted a Smoker & Reclamation Party. Along with Brother Goins, Butler Dowery (Psi Psi Chapter ’52), Otis Hill (Kappa Sigma), James W. Burton, Leslie Wyche (Chi Chapter ’66), Wade Israel, Kenneth McZinc (Zeta Psi ’61), Louis Rainford (Zeta Psi ’52), Ronald E. Jones, (Epsilon Chapter ’66) Ernest Bostic Jr. (Zeta Psi Chapter ’61), and Charles Thomas (Phi Psi Chapter ’55), were some of the men who kept the chapter rolling through the sixties and seventies.
Epsilon: A New Direction (1981-1989)
Starting in late 1962, Epsilon began a great resurgence. Brothers came from all over New York City to help re-build the chapter. After re-establishing itself in the sixties and seventies, the chapter would begin taking on a new form in the early eighties. In 1981, Epsilon initiated twenty young men from the various colleges and universities in New York City. As older brothers in the Chapter began to once again transfer to graduate chapters throughout the city, the chapter began to get younger and younger as new pledge classes were initiated. Successful pledge clubs were initiated from 1981 to 1984, and in 1986 and 1987. In 1983 there were two successful pledge clubs. During this tie period, a total of 57 men crossed the burning sands.
Socially, in the mid-eighties, brothers from the Chapter laid the foundation for “The Legendary Omega Drip.” The first Omega Drip was held at The Metcafe Center on the campus of Long Island University in the summer of 1985. Brother Granville Johnson came up with the concept. The event was formed to entertain visiting brothers during the weekend of Kappa Omicron’s Boatride. It was during the summer of ’87, that the Omega Drip reached legendary status. Appropriately called “The Omega Drip” because of the numbers in attendance and the flow of the party, the event was capped off by the attendance and service Omega’s very own and newly initiated Chicago Bulls and NBA superstar Michael “Air” Jordan. Bro Jordan showed his enthusiasm for the Fraternity and the event by mingling with brothers and guests. As a result of Bro Jordan’s attendance, the spectacular stepshow performed by brothers in the Chapter and the overall good time enjoyed by all in attendance, the “Drip” from that point ” became legendary. The Chapter did not have the “Drip” in 1988, however it has been held every year since. Brothers Granville V. Johnson (Epsilon ’83), Donald C. McCarthy (Epsilon ’82), Niles D. Stewart (Epsilon ’84), Victor P. Antoine (Gamma Sigma ’80), and Marion J. Tucker III (Epsilon ’84) were the original organizers of the event.
In 1983, Brother Gary Johnson
(Epsilon ’83) started publishing a chapter newsletter. The purpose of the
newsletter was to enhance the networking efforts of the Chapter members to
obtain employment. In the mid eighties, the Chapter was recognized by the
American Red Cross organization for numerous blood drives that the Chapter held
on the various local college campuses.
The members of the first place Second District Conference Stepshow were Brothers James “Hot Dog” Jones (Epsilon ’86) Maurice Francis (Epsilon ’87), James D. Edmonds III (Epsilon ’87), Eugene L. Montague (Epsilon ’87), Darrell J. Hampton, (Epsilon ’87), and Roy C. Castro (Epsilon ’87). Unfortunately, however, due to scheduling, coordination, and planning problems, the Chapter was unable to attend and compete at for the Second District at the Grand Conclave that year.
The Epsilon Step Team would continue to perform throughout the remainder of the eighties and resurface in the nineties. The Chapter Step Team along with Brothers from Zeta Psi Chapter performed a robust step-show at City College of New York in 1990. The majority of the members on these teams were initiated into Epsilon Chapter between 1983 and 1987.
In the eighties, the Chapter hosted a fund-raising basketball game against radio station WBLS to benefit JHS 117 in Brooklyn. The basketball game, which raised $1,200.00, was organized by Brother Darrell J. Hampton. The Chapter also organized and conducted a Big Brothers Program for high school boys. During this time, that the Chapter also held its first Women’s History Month Program and its first Pan-African History Month Program. Both programs, started by Brother Darrell Hampton with the assistance of Brother Eugene Montague, were held in 1988 at St Peter Claver Church in Brooklyn.
The Chapter also held its annual Achievement Week and Talent Hunt Programs. In 1987, the Talent Hunt Program was chaired by Brother Donald McCarty and was held on the campus of Long Island University in downtown Brooklyn. Along with the Omega Drip, the Chapter hosted smaller parties at “A Taste of Soul” in lower Manhattan.
In 1989, the Chapter celebrated its Seventieth Anniversary at City College. At the dinner dance, Brother Butler B. Dowery was honored for his work in Omega, Epsilon, and New York City. Brother Victor Antoine was the Chairman for the event. The Willie A. Goins Memorial Scholarship was also established at the 70th anniversary. Heading into the nineties, the Chapter was once again starting to go through a major change.
Epsilon: A New Dynasty 1990-1999
Towards the end of the eighties the Chapter once again began to shrink. Heading into the nineties, the Brothers were heading off into new directions. The Chapter once again began to address the issue of membership. A key step in the resurgence of Epsilon Chapter was reclamation. In 1992, newly elected Basileus Darrell J. Hampton led the task of reclaiming brothers in the New York City area. With newly initiated, transferred, and reclaimed brothers, the chapter set forth on her work.
At the Second District Conference in 1992, Epsilon Chapter was given the opportunity to represent the Second District at the Fraternity’s National Convention Marchdown Competition. Brothers Lewis Anderson (Epsilon Chapter ’91) and Howard Henry (Epsilon Chapter ’91) represented Epsilon Chapter in Rochester, New York. Under the direction of Step Master Howard Henry, on August 1, 1992, Epsilon put forth a memorable show. For their efforts, the Chapter was awarded second place at the 67th Grand Conclave Marchdown Competition. Brothers Darren Fails, Maurice Francis, Darrell Hampton, Roy Castro, Victor Diggs, Tony Curtis, Lewis Anderson, Richard Pierre, Howard Henry, and Sam Ryan comprised the team. The Chapter’s success at the Conclave would eventually lead to other opportunities down the road.
In December of ’93 the Chapter made a decision to compete in the annual January 1 stepshow competition in New York City. On January 2, the team rose to the occasion, putting on one of the most memorable and entertaining shows in New York Step Show history. With the prize in hand, the chapter would soon receive another opportunity to showcase its talents; an invitation to step at the world famous Apollo Theatre.
In 1994, the major black fraternities and sororities were invited to exhibit the stepping abilities against each other on “Showtime at the Apollo.” In February Epsilon Chapter was the first step team to perform on the world famous stage. The Epsilon step team consisted of Brothers Darren Fails, James “Hot Dog” Jones, Noel Baker, Clyde Cole, Anthony McIntyre, Tony Curtis, Lewis Anderson, Richard Pierre, Howard Henry, and Sam Ryan.
While coordinating the step show for August 1992, the Chapter still had other work to be done. Earlier in the year, the Chapter began work on re-establishing an Epsilon Boat Ride. The original Epsilon Show Boat had transferred hands in 1948 with the forming of Kappa Omicron Chapter. Going into the nineties, Kappa Omicron was still hosting the annual event. After much consideration and numerous contributions, the Chapter moved to re-establish an Epsilon Boat Ride. The next move was the task of promoting the event deemed “A Mid-Summer Cruise with Ques”. Epsilon’s boatride caught immediate attention. On Thursday July 2 the Chapter threw a pre-boatride bash at Indigo Blues. On Friday July 3, the Epsilon Boat Ride became the opening event of Omega Weekend. The Brother mainly responsible for re-establishing an Epsilon Boatride were Richard M. Pierre, Anthony McIntyre, James A. Jones Jr., Darren Fails, James D. Edmonds, Philip J. Woods, Roy C. Castro, Donald C. McCarthy, Maurice A. Francis and Darrell J. Hampton.
Since the mid-eighties, the Chapter had sponsored the Omega Drip on the day following Kappa Omicron’s boat ride. With the Epsilon boatride in place, the Drip would now follow the Chapter’s own event. Coupled with an after party and the Drip on the following day, the chapter now had the foundation of Omega weekend. Starting in 1993, Omega Weekend was moved back to the first weekend of August. In 1993, Basileus Brother Darrell J. Hampton put forth the idea of hosting a picnic (now Family Day) on the Sunday after the Drip. The idea was to host a picnic that would be the Chapter’s way of thanking her friends and family for their support over Omega Weekend and throughout the year. The suggestion became reality, and the concluding activity of Omega Weekend was in place. The Chapter’s annual success with Omega Weekend would lead the way for more programs and activities.
On Saturday April 16, 1994 at the New York Hilton and Towers Hotel Trianon Ballroom in New York City. Nearly one hundred and seventy-five brothers and their guest attended the event. Past Basileus and Chapter Historian, Brother Robert E. Addison was the keynote speaker. Brother Clark S. Brown Sr. (Epsilon ’30) was presented the Achievement Award, which is given to a brother made in Epsilon who has twenty-five years or more of service to the Fraternity. The Merit Award, which is given to a brother who has twenty-five years or more service to the Fraternity, but is not made in Epsilon, was presented to Brother Alvin Strong. Ann Tripp, a radio personality for New York City radio station 98.7 Kiss FM was honored with the African-American Woman of the Year Award.
Over the years, the Chapter has sponsored and/or participated in a number of programs and projects. Some of the Chapter’s programs are Women’s History Month, Talent Hunt, Willie A. Goins Memorial Scholarship, Achievement Week, and the Kwanzaa Book & Toy Drive. The Chapter has participated in other projects such as March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon, voter registration, and blood drives in honor of Brother Charles R. Drew. Epsilon more recently has worked with other chapters in the metropolitan New York City area in co-hosting a Founders Day celebration and a Carter G. Woodson Black History Month Program.At different times over the past ten years, the Chapter has sponsored a monthly Feed the Homeless Program. The program, initiated by Brother Richard Pierre in the early nineties, at one time was held in conjunction with the Loyola Youth Center in Brooklyn, where Brother Clyde Cole was the director. Several brothers including, Darren Fails, Tony Smalls, Maurice Francis, S. Raschid Mueller and Roy Castro have worked on this program. In the summer, the Chapter has one of two-planned voter registration drives. Brothers Richard Pierre, Darren Fails, Jay Jones, Erik Wright, Maurice Francis, and Daron L. Nesmith have organized this event in the past. This program has been done in conjunction with other metro chapters notably Kappa Omicron, and Alpha Upsilon. The Chapters usually set up and work in high traffic areas of Harlem and downtown Brooklyn.
The Chapter has sponsored a number of different types of Mentorship/Big Brother programs in the nineties. From 1993 to 1995, the Chapter sponsored a big brother program with the Dean Street Shelter. The original program, working with boys who lived in transitional housing, was started by Brother Richard M. Pierre and Niles D. Stewart. Brothers S. Raschid Muller, Darren Fails, Anthony McIntyre, Darrell J. Hampton, and Maurice A. Francis played a big part in supporting the program. Brother Clyde A. Cole II organized a Feed the Homeless Program that also doubled as a Big Brother Program in conjunction with the St. Ignatius Youth Group in Brooklyn, New York. Brother Cole also organized a High School Mentoring Program at Xavier High School in Manhattan.
In the spring, the Chapter has a Women’s History Month Program. Since its inception in the late 80’s, the Chapter has sponsored numerous successful programs. Since Brothers Darrell J. Hampton and Eugene Montague started the program, Brothers Kendall Smalls, and Noel M. Baker have taken on the challenge and have succeeded in putting together outstanding events. At the Women’s History Month Program the chapter recognizes its annual Lottie B. Wilson Award receipent. The Lottie B. Wilson Award is given out to that outstanding Woman of our community. The chapter has a guest sorority speakers consisting of women from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. The panel members speak about their respective organization’s efforts and topics of the day.
Past Epsilon Chapter Lottie B. Wilson Award honorees have been Mrs. Onida Coward-Mayers, the Executive Director of Brooklyn Community Access television. Ms. Annette M. Robinson was honored for her tireless work as a New York City Council Woman, lecturer, and facilitator of community awareness programs. The chapter honored Ms. Teresa Stedman, who is the Outreach Coordinator for Monroe College. Ms. Stedman was honored for her work in improving the educational level in our communities by helping teenage dropouts work towards achieving their GED and eventually gaining entrance into college. Another honoree was Dr. Annie Martin, president of the New York City branch of the NAACP, and a member of its National Board of Directors. The chapter has also honored Dr. Marcia Bayne Smith of the Urban Studies Department at Queens College in New York was the recipient. Dr. Bayne Smith was honored for her continuing work in research and publishing of issues of teen pregnancy and immigrant health.
Past themes have been “Strength: Defining the African-American Woman”. “The Role of the Black Woman in the Civil Rights Movement”. And “Enlightening African-American Woman to meet the Ever Changing Health Challenges”. The chapter has been recognized for this outstanding program. Brother J. Kendall “Biggy” Smalls, in his fourth year as chairman, received on behalf of the Chapter, two citations for the Woman’s Day Program, one from C. Virginia Fields, the Borough President of Manhattan, and one from Marty Markowitz, the Borough President of Brooklyn. Brothers Kendall Smalls, Darren Fails, Clyde Cole, CONTACT _Con-43F17E20D \c \s \l Darrell Hampton, Richard Pierre, Niles Stewart, Jay Jones, Howard Henry, Noel Baker, Maurice A. Francis, James Edmonds, and Howard A. Henry have all worked on the committee.
Since the mid-nineties, the Chapter has participated in the annual New York City March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon, serving as marshals, directing participants to various registration food and safety areas. Brother Roy C. Castro has been instrumental in this organizing the brothers for this project. Brothers Noel Baker, Clyde Cole, Darren Fails, Richard Pierre, Sam Ryan, Erik Wright, and Shawn Edmonds also have participated in the program.
The recent chapter history with regards to the Talent Hunt Program started in 1987 when Brother Donald McCarthy as chairman, and the program was held at Long Island University. Starting in 1997, a new run of Talent Hunt Programs was set into motion by Brother Maurice Francis who as served as chairman for the past seven years. The first program under the watch of Brother Francis was held at Long Island University in Brooklyn New York. Past Talent Hunt winners of the Talent Hunt Program have been Leidy Mariano, Janine Cambridge, vocalist Ernestine Guzman have won first place vocalist Stephanie Young, (three time winner) have won first place and represented the Chapter at the Second District Conference.
Brothers Ceylon Frett, Carl Bell, Luke Braxton Darren Fails, James Edmonds Michael Dinkins, Niles D. Stewart, Tony D. Curtis, Clyde A. Cole, Granville V. Johnson, Kenny Smalls, Noel Baker Roy C. Castro, and Sam Ryan have helped Brother Francis with the program. Brother Ed Artis, Anthony Smalls, Niles Stewart have served as emcee. Brothers Brother Ronald Jones (Epsilon ‘66), Dave Hoxter (Nu Psi Chapter ’87), Kenyatta “Dewey” Bell (Kappa Chapter ’87), Jay “Hot Dog” Jones along with Mr. Chris Mercado of Hot 97 FM, and Mr. Fateem Muhammed (from 98.7 Kiss FM radio) have served as judges.
In 1989, at the 70th Anniversary, the Chapter announced that it had set up a scholarship in memory of Brother Willie A. Goins, who had been a longtime member of Epsilon Chapter. The scholarship is awarded to a male college bound New York City student. In recent years, the Chapter has presented the winners at the Chapter’s anniversary celebration. Some of the winners are Kwame Ohemeng (1996), who attends Weslyan University in Connecticut, Orlando Benitez (1997), who attends Cornell University, and Lyndon Gill (1998), who is attending Stanford University.
In 1999 Jose Lopez and Rasul Chew were awarded scholarships by the Chapter. Jose Lopez is a student at Cornell University and Rasul Chew attends Tuskegee University. Since the inception of the scholarship, a number of brothers have contributed to the success of he program. Brother Clyde A. Cole, and Noel M. Baker have served as Chairman of this committee. Brothers Richard M. Pierre, Clyde A. Cole, Noel M. Baker, Darren Fails, Roy C. Castro, Daron L. Nesmith, Maurice Francis, and Jay Smith have served on the committee in past years.
In October the Chapter participates in the New York Cares Day Program. Brother Roy Castro has served as Committee Chairman for a number of years. Past projects have included repainting schools, classrooms, and schoolyards. Brothers Anthony McIntyre, Jay Jones, S. Raschid Muller, Darren Fails, Maurice Francis, Richard M. Pierre, Clyde A. Cole II, and Sam Ryan have participated in past programs.
Past themes for Achievement Week have been “The Ramifications of Affirmative Action for America: Can a Nation Divided Against Itself Stand?” “Contributing to the Survival of the Black male Through Political Empowerment.” “Contracts with America: Prospectus for Unity or Racism by Legislation?” “With today’s political and judicial maneuvering, what must African-American males do to insure mainstream inclusion?” and “Strengthening family values to improve the quality of life for the 21st Century”.
The Chapter has honored Mr. John Issacs as its Citizen of the Year for his work as a community activist and youth advocate. Mr. Issacs was an original member of the Harlem Renaissance Basketball Team in the thirties and forties. Brother Francis C. Taylor (Eta Gamma ’54, and Alpha Upsilon Chapter) was the Citizen of the Year for his decades of dedication to the Board of Education and as an instructor for the Boys Club of New York. Mrs. Okaita Douglas Stevens as its Citizen of the Year for her outstanding work as Co-Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program for Long Island University. Brother Curtis Nelson (Gamma Chapter ‘85), an educator in the Boston school system who exemplifies the true meaning of uplift received the 2000 Citizen of the Year Award. Ms. Shelley Carrera as its Citizen of the Year. Ms. Carrera was honored for her fantastic work as Recreational Director of the Dean Street Family Shelter in Brooklyn New York. Mrs. Bonnie Epps-Burgess was recognized as Citizen of the Year for her work as an educator. Mr. “BIG” Bob Slade of radio station WRKS 98.7 Kiss Fm received the 2001 Citizen of the Year. Mr. Slade has two radio shows on air. One of his shows, “The Open Line” is a political show that handles everything from race relations to events in the black community.
During the program the Chapter acknowledges their Omega Man of the Year. Brother Clyde A. Cole, Anthony A. Smalls, Maurice A. Francis, Noel M. Baker, and James “Hot Dog” Jones have all been recognized for their untiring efforts. The chapter basileus also recognizes the efforts of individual brothers with a Basileus Award. In recent years, the chapter has acknowledged Brothers Benjamin Brayboy, Roy C. Castro, Richard M. Pierre and Anthony McIntyre for outstanding service to the Chapter and the Fraternity.
Brothers James D. Edmonds III, Niles D. Stewart, Darrell J. Hampton have served as Chairmen of this program for Epsilon.
Brothers James A. Jones Jr., Roy C. Castro, and Kendall Smalls, Lewis Anderson, Benjamin Brayboy, Richard M. Pierre, Anthony McIntyre, Jay D. Smith, Shawn Edmonds, Darren Fails, and Granville V. Johnson III, George L. Price, Bryant Rock, Shawn Edmonds, and Warren C. Dews Jr, worked on the committee for the Chapter.
In December, under the direction of Brother Darren Fails the Chapter sponsors a Kwanzaa Book and Toy Drive. Brothers are asked to donate a new book, toy or money towards the purchasing of new items for needy children. The Children’s Aid Society Teen Program is one organization that has benefited from this program. Along with the Book & Toy drive, the chapter usually finishes the year off with a Kwanzaa celebration, which is held at the home of one of the brothers in the chapter. This program was also under the direction of Brother Darren Fails, and was held at his home in the 90’s.
The brothers of Epsilon Chapter have had a storied political and scholastic history with the Fraternity, Second District, and in Corridor Five. Throughout her history, the chapter has had as part of its membership some of Omega’s finest sons. On a national level, as 7th Grand Basileus, Brother Raymond G. Robinson helped charter Epsilon Chapter. Grand Basilei, Brothers Grant Reynolds and Brother George E. Meares were initiated in Epsilon Chapter in 1931 and 1938 respectively. Brother Reynolds served as 1st Vice Grand Basileus and in 1951 was elected the Fraternity’s 21st Grand Basileus in ‘52. Brother George E. Meares, was elected Grand Basileus in 1964. Brother Jeff L. Greenup (Epsilon ’50) would serve as the 5th Grand Counselor.
In the forties, the 2nd District Conference was re-organized. Among her first new officers were a few Epsilon brothers. In 1947, the Conference elected Nathaniel A. Burrell Jr., (Epsilon ’20), to serve as its first President. The following year, the office of President was abolished because of conflict with Fraternity’s Constitution & By Laws. Brother Burrell would then go on to become the District Keeper of Records and Seal. He would hold this position for ten years. Also in the 40’s, Brother Donald D. Adams (Epsilon ’31) served as District as Director of Publicity. Brother Irving H. Selden (Epsilon ’30) founded and served as the first Editor of The Omegan. Brother George E. Meares served as Second District Representative before being elected Grand Basileus. Brother Jeff L. Greenup (Epsilon ’50) served as District Counselor before taking on the International position.
In the 80’s, Brother Lance H. Wilson (Epsilon ’68) served as District Counselor. Brother Daroll Pattillo served as an Undergraduate Representative on the District Council. In 1986 Brother Niles D. Stewart served as the 2nd Vice District Representative for the Second District. Brother Darren Fails served as Undergraduate Representative. In the nineties, Brothers James D. Edmonds III, and Lewis Anderson would serve as Second Vice Grand Basileus and Second Vice District Representatives. In recent years, Brother James Edmonds has served as Corridor Five Representative. Brother Edmonds is currently the Assistant District Keeper of Records and Seal for the Second District.
Along with outstanding political service to the Fraternity, Brothers of Epsilon have been awarded for their scholastic commitment. In May of 1991 Brother James D. Edmonds, was the Junior Scholar of the Year” in the Second District. In 1992 Brother Darrell J. Hampton was the Junior Scholar of the Year at the District level and on the National level of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity Inc. Brother Hampton was also on the City College of New York, Dean's List. Brother James D. Edmonds, was the Senior Scholar of the Year in the Second District. Brother Darrell J. Hampton was named the Senior Scholar of the Year on the District level and also on the National level. Brother Darrell J. Hampton won the graduate Scholar of the Year in 2002.” In 2003, Brother Clyde A. Cole won the Second District Graduate Scholar/Creative Research Fellowship.
Socially the chapter has continued to play host to a number of events over the years. Starting in 1991, the chapter entertained New York City and its Greek letter societies with a variety of parties. A major number of these events were held at the YWCA in Brooklyn New York. Under the leadership of Brother Richard M. Pierre, the chapter held annual “Baby Que Year”, “Valentines Day, Quepid was a Que”, “Memorial Day Weekend”, “Omega Drips”, “Thanksgivings Day”, and “Summer in December” parties.
The Chapter celebrated its Eightieth Anniversary on Saturday April 17, 1999. The event was held at the City College of New York in Harlem New York. At the anniversary celebration, the chapter honored two distinguished Omega Men. Former Grand Basileus and Epsilon’s own Brother Grant Reynolds, Esq. was honored with the chapter’s Purple Merit Award. Brother Rudolph W. Powell was presented the Gold Achievement Award. Brother Ronald E. Jones (Epsilon ’66) was the Keynote Speaker. Brother Darrell J. Hampton served as the program Chairman. Brother Lewis Anderson served as Master of Ceremonies, and Brothers Clyde A. Cole, Roy C. Castro, Maurice A. Francis, James D. Edmonds III, James A. Jones Jr., Richard M. Pierre, Lewis Anderson, and Sam Ryan served on the committee.
Epsilon: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 2000-Present
In the new millennium Epsilon has continued its great service to New York City and Omega. Today the chapter plans and participates in a number of programs and activities. This past year activities have included an Assault on Illiteracy Program, a Women History Month Program, Quepid was a Que Affair, a Talent Hunt Program, New York Cares Day, March of Dimes Walk America, a Memorial Day Celebration, and a movie screening of the Matrix. The Chapter also held it annual Omega Weekend activities, an Achievement Week Program, conducted the Willie A. Goins Memorial Scholarship, and co-hosted a Thanksgiving Omega Reunion party with Zeta Psi Chapter.
The Chapter has a Reclamation Committee headed by Brother Dean R. Robateau (Epsilon Chapter Spr.’83). Brother Santo Nesbitt (Epsilon Epsilon Chapter ’77) serves as Co-Chairman. The chapter continues to donate annually to the UNCF and NAACP. The chapter has held a Life Membership in the NAACP since 1966, and makes annual contributions.
There are a host of other Brothers who over the years have provided outstanding physical, mental, and emotional support to the Chapter. Brothers like Darrell Hampton, Clyde A. Cole, Richard M. Pierre, Maurice Francis, Roy C. Castro, Darren Fails, James D. Edmonds III, Kendall “Biggy” Smalls, James (Hot Dog) Jones, Anthony McIntyre, Noel M. Baker, and Lewis Anderson. These brothers are noted for their unparallel levels of effort and enthusiasm. They come ready to work and bring tons of energy with them. These brothers have shown a steady commitment to Omega and Epsilon over the years. Each of these brothers can found working on numerous committees. Whether it is on the executive council, as a committee chair, or committee worker, as a district officer or national officer, chapter editor, social event promoter they get the job done. If the fraternity could bottle their passion, Omega would be unstoppable.
As in past decades, Epsilon also owed a great debt of gratitude to transferred brothers. Brother Damon Donaldson (Upsilon Beta ’77), Clyde A. Cole, (Psi Sigma 89), Anthony McIntyre (Nu ’89), and Benjamin Brayboy (Gamma 84) were the new wave of dedicated brothers to help Epsilon. Brothers like S. Raschid Muller (Phi Omicron Chapter ’94) Garneth L. Francis (Phi Epsilon ’88), Santos Nesbitt (Epsilon Epsilon Chapter ’77) Ceylon Frett (Pi Chapter ’85), Kendall “Biggy” Smalls (Chi Kappa Chapter ’90), and Martin Majeske (Pi Psi Chapter ’87) have helped Epsilon on her journey.
Founded on Friday April 18, 1919, the chapter has been called home by many Omega Men. Throughout her eighty-five years, the chapter has been fortunate to have loyal and dedicated service from numerous brothers. These Omega men are responsible for her great history. Epsilon Chapter has existed for eight and a half decades. As we work a few years into the new millennium, the chapter remains an Omega presence in New York City. As the chapter embarks on the future, it can look back at its storied past. With the greatness of the past, the strength of the present, and the promise of the future, we are the “Mighty” Epsilon Chapter.
Pictured: Bro. Grant Reynolds (3-31-Epsilon) and Bro. Sam Ryan (5-91-Epsilon)
- Brother Sam Ryan (author)
The following history was comprised with help from the following institutions, publications, and individual Brothers.
The Oracle, The Omega Bulletin, The Herman Dreer History Book, New York University, Columbia University, The Amsterdam News, The Arthur Schomburg Library, Howard University Moreland-Springarn Research Library, the Kappa Omicron Fraternity House, and the International Headquarters.
A special thanks goes out to the following Brothers who entertained my many questions and provided information through memory and pictures. Brother Ronald E. Jones (60’s-70s history and pictures), Brother Chester N. Gibbs (40’s-50’s history and pictures), Brother Rudolph W. Powell (50’s history and pictures), Brother Louis Rainford (50, 60’s history and pictures), Brother Grant Reynolds (30’s history), Brother Clark S. Brown (20-30’s history), Brother Robert E. Addison (50’s history), Brother Elliot B. Bourne (50-60’s history and pictures), Brother Darren Fails (Editing), Brother Lewis Anderson (Artifacts & Memorabilia), and numerous Brothers of this Chapter.