12th District

A brief history of the 12th District of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated

In 1911, the Founders of this beloved Fraternity had a vision of not only starting a Fraternity, but of expanding it across this vast country, from a small Black college in Washington, DC, to the shores of California. In 1923, Lambda Chapter, affectionately referred to as “the pearl of the west coast”, was organized at the University of Southern California. Lambda is the only single letter chapter on the west coast. In 1925, Epsilon Psi was chartered at the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1941, under the guidance of Grand Basileus Z. Alexander Looby, the 12th District was created, comprised of California and the rest of the Pacific Coast. The initial District Organizational Meeting was held in Oakland, CA with a gathering of forty (40) or so brothers.

The 12th District has seen many decades and has been there with the four Cardinal Principals of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift. The 12th District has been a beacon of light and aspiration for not only African Americans, but all people of color, with Omega Men leading the way on many levels.

The 12th District continued to grow through the years. Three chapters were chartered in the 50’s; Eight chapters in the 60’s; Fourteen chapters in the 70’s; and fifteen in the 80’s.

Today, the Massive Twelfth District encompasses ten (10) states, four (4) time zones, and one thousand financial members. Geographically, the 12th District covers the largest contiguous landmass of any District under the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. umbrella, occupying approximately 1.6 million square miles.

In recent years, the 12th District has enjoyed a rich history. Brother Dr. L. Benjamin Livingston, Pi Rho Chapter (San Bernardino, CA), was elected as Omega Psi Phi’s 1st Vice Grand Basileus in 1979. Subsequently, in 1982, Brother Livingston was elected 32nd Grand Basileus. He is the only Grand Basileus elected from the District.

In 1986, the twentieth 12th District Representative, Brother Dr. Jewett L. Walker, Lambda Omicron, Los Angeles, CA, oversaw the chartering of the District’s 45th Chapter, Xi Gamma Gamma, a Marine Corp influenced chapter in Oceanside, CA.

In 1987, Brother Dr. Joseph Marshall, a member of Pi Chi Chapter (San Francisco, CA) founded the nationally recognized Omega Boys Club.

The 1990′s proved to be a truly banner decade for the 12th District. 1991 saw Denestine Lyle, representing Tau Tau Chapter (Compton, CA) win the International Citizen of the Year award. At the 1992 Atlanta Conclave, the 12th District was awarded the following International awards: Citizen of the Year award, given to Dr. Geraldine Welles, representing Zeta Rho Chapter (Los Angeles, CA); Undergraduate Chapter of the Year – Alpha Mu Chapter (Stanford University); Superior Service Award – Brother Marcus Bedford, Tau Tau Chapter; and, Undergraduate of the Year – Brother Sedrick Spencer, now the thirtieth, and sitting, 12th District Representative.

In 1992, the twenty-second 12th District Representative, Brother Raymond Gibson of Phi Beta Beta Chapter (Inglewood, CA) led the charge as the Fraternity chartered the second chapter in the great state of Alaska, Rho Iota Iota Chapter in Fairbanks.

In 1994, Brother Dr. Joseph Marshall, Pi Chi Chapter, was awarded $250,000 for the prestigious McArthur Genius Award for his work with the Omega Boys Club. Also, Brother Calvin Goode of Phi Iota Chapter (Phoenix, AZ) had the honor of having a downtown federal building named after him.

In 1995, Tuskegee Airman Brother Lincoln Ragsdale of Phi Iota Chapter was posthumously honored with the Phoenix Sky Harbor executive air terminal named after him. Also that year, the 12th District hosted the first ever Pre-Conclave “Kick Off” in Los Angeles, CA

In 1996, the four original Chapters of the 12th District – Alpha Epsilon (University of Arizona) and graduate chapters Sigma Iota (Oakland, CA), Phi Iota (Phoenix, AZ), and Lambda Omicron (Los Angeles, CA) celebrated their 50th Anniversaries.

1996 saw the 12th District host the 69th Grand Conclave in Los Angeles, CA, with Brother Tony Collins, Zeta Rho Chapter, serving as Grand Marshal. It was eighteen years ago when the twenty-fourth 12th District Representative, Brother Ricky L. Lewis and Brothers of Tau Tau Chapter (Compton, CA), started the annual Youth Leadership Conference. In 2011, the conference had a record number of youths (more than 500), and their parents, attend, with the Brothers of Omega Psi Phi participating as presenters and mentors, including a special appearance by Brother Steve Harvey.

In 1998, the 12th District made Omega history by re-electing the twenty-third 12th District Representative Bro. Carl A. Blunt of Phi Iota Chapter, Phoenix, AZ, as the twenty-fifth 12th District Representative. The District supported Brother Blunt’s successful election as Grand Keeper of Finance in 2002 and 2004, as well as 1st Vice Grand Basileus in 2006 and 2008.

In 2000, the Travis Williams Center was named for Brother Travis Williams of Phi Iota Chapter (Phoenix, AZ). Additionally, in 2010, American Legion Post 65 was named after him posthumously.

In 2003, Lambda Chapter, at University Southern California, celebrated its’ 80th year.

At the 2006 Little Rock Conclave, the 12th District was awarded the following International awards: 2004 International Superior Service to Brother Charles C. Peevy, twenty-ninth 12th District Representative; Tau Tau Chapter was recognized with back-to-back Graduate Social Action Chapter of the Year awards for 2004 and 2005.

In 2007, under the tutelage of Brother Charles C. Peevy, the Fraternity chartered the 12th Districts’ 51st chapter, Beta Mu Mu (Clark County, NV); Zeta Tau Chapter (Pasadena, CA) celebrated its’ 50th year, recognizing three of its chartering members – Brothers Oscar Harris, Arttus Waters and Dr. J.B. Singleton

In 2008, Brother Philmore Graham, the twelfth 12th District Representative, Theta Pi Chapter (Vallejo, CA) celebrated the 40 year anniversary of the original Continental Omega Boys & Girls Club.

In 2009, Brother Charles C. Peevy, spearheaded the culmination of the establishment of the Ernest E. Just Youth and Community Services Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) public charitable organization. Its primary function is to assist chapters in their mentorship activities.

In 2009, Brother Thomas McPhatter, the thirteenth 12th District Representative, of Phi Omicron Chapter, (San Diego, CA) joined Omega Chapter. As a Montford Point Marine, he saw action on Iwo Jima, and provided the pipe that was used as a staff to raise the flag of the USA; Phi Omicron also celebrated its’ 60th anniversary.

In 2009, Brother Sedrick Spencer, our thirtieth 12th District Representative, guided host chapters Beta Mu Mu & Kappa Xi of Las Vegas, NV, to the most financially successful Leadership Conference in Omega Psi Phi history.

In 2010, Zeta Upsilon Chapter (Seattle, WA) celebrated its 60th year.

In 2011, Tau Tau Chapter celebrated its 50th year, while Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Iota, Phi Iota, and Lambda Omicron Chapters celebrated their 65th year.


Internal Growth

In 1922, J. Alston Atkins, the 9th Grand Basileus, appointed the first district representatives. Today, eleven such officers are elected annually at district meetings.

Also in 1922, the office of Vice Grand Basileus was created. The Grand Keeper of Records became the Grand Keeper of the Records and Seal. In 1923, Lambda Chapter affectionately referred to as “the pearl of the west coast,” was organized at the University of Southern California. Omega Psi Phi becomes the first black Greek organization to span its membership across the United States – from the Atlantic (Iota in Atlantic City) to the Pacific (Lambda in Los Angeles). The Sigma chapter was organized at McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) on December 15, 1923. Brother Walter R. Dunston, the former Basileus of Phi chapter, set up the fraternity’s first international chapter with the assistance of Brother George W. Brown. In 1926, the memorial for Brother Colonel Charles Young is held at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorial Service is established to memorialize Brother Young’s birthday. The first Omega Bulletin was published in 1928 and Campbell C. Johnson was the editor. In 1930, Omega Psi Phi became one of five founding members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council with 13th Grand Basileus Matthew W. Bullock elected as its first permanent chairman.

“Omega Dear,” was adopted as the official hymn in 1931. Charles R. Drew, professor of surgery, and Mercer Cook, professor of languages, both members of the Howard faculty, were the composers. Cook wrote the music and first stanza; Drew wrote the last two stanzas. By mid-1930, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Federal Council of Negro Affairs or “Black Cabinet,” which was an informal group of African-American public policy advisors who were organized to help the country emerge out of the depression. Omega men: Robert C. Weaver, Lawrence Oxley, Roscoe Brown, Frank Horne, William Hastie, J. Arthur Weiseger, Ted Poston, Campbell C. Johnson, and William Trent were among those who served on the cabinet. Each of the founders graduated and went on to have distinguished careers in their chosen fields: Edgar Love became a bishop in the Methodist church; Oscar Cooper practiced medicine in Philadelphia for over 50 years; Frank Coleman became the chairman of the Department of Physics at Howard University and Ernest E. Just became a world-renowned biologist and the 1st recipient of the prestigious NAACP Spingarn Medal.