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Monday, June 5, 2023

Black Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Celebrates 100 Years of Service to the Los Angeles Community

Lambda Chapter of Omega Psi Phi

Nationwide — A staple in the community for a full century, members of the Los Angeles-based Lambda Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. came together on May 19-21 to celebrate the rich history of scholarship, brotherhood & service in a fun-filled evening commemorating the organization. A collection of undergraduate, graduate, and alumni members representing more than 60 years of chapter membership traveled from across the country to participate in this monumental weekend, hosted by the Lambda Scholar Foundation, Incorporated.

The Centennial Celebration theme was Many Walks of Life – The Common Bond of Friendship. Held inside the famed Town & Gown on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC), nearly 300 guests were in attendance for an evening comprised of an outdoor reception, dinner, a gala program, a chapter photo, dancing, and a special step show. Hosted by television and radio commentator Morris “Will” O’Kelly with a special appearance and keynote address from Ricky L. Lewis, the fraternity’s 42nd Grand Basileus (International President).

In his opening emcee, Mo’Kelly shared, “You can’t tell the story of the western expansion of our great fraternity into a truly national, and eventually international organization, and not also tell the story of Lambda chapter.”

In his keynote address, Grand Basileus Lewis proclaimed, “We thank you for what you’ve done ever since 1923. We thank you for the common bond of friendship.” He continued, “We especially thank Lambda chapter for all the work you’ve done and for what you’ll continue to do to uphold the four (4) cardinal principals.”

Along with Grand Basileus Lewis, fifteen (15) of the fraternity’s current and former officers were in attendance at the gala, including newly elected thirty-fifth 12th District Representative William Earl Edwards, Jr., who was recently installed at the fraternity’s district meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. Honorable dignitaries present were Ryan Thomas, 2nd Vice Grand Basileus; in addition to now sitting Leadership which includes Edward Young, First Vice District Representative; Maurice Mason II, 2nd Vice District Representative; Nick Thompson, 12th District Keeper of the Seal; Raphael Irving, 12th District Keeper of Finance; Charles Clemons, 12th District Chaplain; Damon Martin, 12th District Counselor; Kwame Dow, Immediate Past and thirty-fourth 12th District Representative; Kelvin K. Ampofo, Immediate Past 2nd District Representative; Fred Alexander, thirty-first 12th District Representative; Sedrick Spencer, thirtieth 12th District Representative; Reverend Dr. Jewett L. Walker, Jr., twentieth 12th District Representative; Tony Collins, Grand Marshal for the 1996 69th Grand Conclave in Los Angeles; and Gerard Catala (’98 Beta Chapter), Rhode Island NAACP President.

Also in attendance at Lambda Chapter’s celebratory gala was Omega Psi Phi’s Franklin Henderson who was initiated in 1950 at Beta Sigma Chapter, Southern University. Guests celebrated and applauded the spry member whose membership in the fraternity currently spans 70 years.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated was founded in 1911 on the campus of Howard University and is the nation’s third-oldest historically Black fraternity. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is geographically divided into 12 districts with over 750 chapters, collectively. The fraternity has initiated more than 200,000 members.

In 2011, the international body of the Omega Psi Phi held its Centennial Celebration to its founding in 1911. Since its founding, the international organization has brought in notable members across the arts Langston Hughes, Rickey Smiley, William (Count) Basie, Steve Harvey; sports Steve McNair, Michael Jordan; business Earl Graves, Nathaniel Bronner, Byron E. Lewis; civil rights Jesse Jackson, Benjamin Hooks, Roy Wilkins, and many others representing perseverance in every field of human endeavor.

Chartered on May 3, 1923, at USC, Lambda is the first and only west coast single-letter, undergraduate chapter in the fraternity’s 12th District and the first to celebrate 100 years along the Pacific. To date, nearly 400 Omega men have come through the chapter and still continue to build the chapter’s illustrious moniker “Pearl of the West Coast,” also referred to as “Slammin’ Lambda.” The local chapter itself has included a prominent list of distinguished names and barrier-breaking members including legendary celebrity architect Paul Revere Williams, FAIA; judge Thomas L. Griffith, Jr.; star athletes William McKinley Peterz, Sebron “Ed” Tucker (Stanford Hall of Fame), Brice Union Taylor (USC Athletic Hall of Fame; also Southern University coach in the first game that later became the Bayou Classic), record holder Wilalyn Q. Stovall and Stevan Simmons (All-American); civil rights litigator Erskine Stevenson Ragland as well as Centennial co-chair Al Sargent (co-creator of the original USC Black Graduation), amongst other notable men in their respective professions. Notably, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Griffith’s granddaughter, Christina Hill, was also in attendance representing in honor of her family.

Emmy award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance once narrated the PBS special on Hollywood’s Architect Paul Williams, who was a notable member of Lambda Chapter. Vance delivered a congratulatory video message to the men of the Lambda Chapter in honor of the 100-year celebration.

Lambda’s Centennial weekend activities encompassed a host of festivities including a reception at Pips on La Brea Restaurant & Lounge on Friday night along with the black-tie Centennial Celebration on Saturday, culminating with a private fraternity cookout on Sunday. Guests of the gala received a curated photo book on the chapter’s history while Lambda members also received a limited, custom lapel pin. As part of a fundraiser, a collectible Centennial brick was produced to commemorate this moment in the chapter’s history.

Select event photos can be downloaded here (credit: Will Utley for Lambda Scholar Foundation, Inc.)

Available video clips can be downloaded here (credit: Lambda Scholar Foundation, Inc.)

Follow the conversation: #LambdaUSC100

About Lambda Chapter:
Chartered at the University of Southern California (USC) on May 3, 1923, the Slammin’ Lambda Chapter (part of the Divine Nine) is affectionately referred to as “the pearl of the west coast”, and is the first and only single-letter Omega chapter along the Pacific. Notably, Lambda is a citywide undergraduate chapter that spans 8 colleges including USC plus CSUN, UCLA, CSULA, Loyola Marymount University, California Lutheran University plus Occidental and Pepperdine Universities. The fraternity’s cardinal principles are Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift. To learn more about Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, visit https://oppf.org/

About Lambda Scholar Foundation:
The Lambda Scholar Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) that provides scholarships to underprivileged young men pursuing their dream of higher education. The foundation’s first scholarship will be distributed in 2023 as part of the local chapter’s 100-year Centennial activities.

Media Inquiries:
Kim Walters
(310) 845-6437

Lambda Scholar Foundation:
Al Sargent
(310) 845-6437