Omega Psi Phi is the first international fraternal organization to be founded (November 17, 1911) on the campus of a historically black college – Howard University. For nearly 101 years, Omega men have been influential members in society as we have lived out our cardinal principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift.
On a local level by the end of 1988, several men of the Chi Omicron chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, located in New Haven, CT held a changing mindset on the role the Fraternity and chapter should take in the local community. It was one that focused on and sought to address the issues of the day with broad outspoken action in an effort to engage and uplift the community, unlike efforts to date. Fueled by the effects of challenging social, health, and political issues along with Jesse Jackson’s historic presidential runs, these men shared an uncompromising devotion to our beloved fraternity that set the stage for a new chapter and direction.
Led by Brother Michael A. Jefferson and with the assistance of Brother Sylvester Wilkins, the First District Representative, the arduous process to establish a new chapter in the Greater New Haven area was put into motion. On Friday, November 16th, 1990, Wayne Ricks, Larry Conaway, Michael Jefferson, Craig Streeter, Bobby Gibson, Rodney Russell, James Ellis, Matthew Marrow, Michael Epps, Randy Campbell, John Harris, Vaughn Willis, and Kevin Moses chartered Epsilon Iota Iota, (EII) the 860th chapter, of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. Selected to serve as the chapter’s first officers were Michael A. Jefferson – Basileus, Bobby Gibson – Vice Basileus, Larry Conaway – Keeper of Records and Seal, Craig Streeter – Keeper of Finance, Vaughn Willis – Chaplain, and Rodney Russell – Keeper of Peace.
During the initial years of the chapter being very conscious of its image as a “young” chapter, brothers set out to counteract that perception and to establish themselves as a force within the First District (the New England states) and as an asset to the community at large. Through discipline and hard work EII accomplished its mission. In the Greater New Haven community the chapter has provided (now in excess of $40,000) scholarship awards to college bound high school seniors; raised over a ton of food for local food pantries; participated in clothing drives and neighborhood cleanup efforts; and worked with local community based organizations to address the myriad of social ills plaguing the community. EII was a hit! In the ensuing years EII would participate in voter registration drives; mentoring programs (Que Academy and COMEGA); city wide career fairs; the NAACP Health Fair; the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebration; and Stop the Violence Initiatives.
Less than a year after receiving its charter the chapter sought to increase its membership. This effort sparked spirited discussions. After an intense vetting process, followed by the Fraternity’s intake process, EII selected six students to represent its first line. In July 1991, Kelly Russell, Mark Nivet, Dwayne Rivers, Steve McCray, Adrian Webber, and Greg Johnson, better known as “The Pioneering Six,” crossed the burning sands of Omega. The Pioneering Six earned their moniker and elevated the reputation of the chapter. They participated and led many social action campaigns across college campuses in the Tri-State Area while setting the course for the chapter’s vitality and future. Since the summer of 1991, fifty-two men, undergraduates and graduates, have been initiated into the chapter.
EII’s contribution at the District level has been quite considerable. Since its founding EII has produced two District Representatives (Rodney J. Russell and Vaughn Willis); four 2nd Vice District Representatives (Jack Perry, Michael Rivers, Alexander Jones and Allahunique Cutts); a First District Omega Man of the Year (Michael A. Jefferson); and presently the chapter has four individuals who serve on the District Council (Michael A. Jefferson – First Vice District Representative, Alexander Jones – District Keeper of Records & Seal, Al-Rahim Williams – District Director of Public Relations and Reverend Samuel Ross-Lee – District Chaplain). Kevin Walton serves as the District’s Scholarship Committee Chairman and Jeron Alston is the Co-Chairman of the District’s Membership Selection Committee. EII has also hosted three District Conferences and was named the 2010 First District Co-Chapter of the year. Due to its impact at the district level, there is no wonder why EII is likened to the “Bloodline of the First District.”
EII also excels in providing quality entertainment to its friends, supporters and the community at large. EII’s social events and Omega Weekend have been well attended over the years and continue to grow in popularity. In honor of one of our dearest friends and a fellow Omega Man, who was called to Omega Chapter, three members (Wayne McCloud, Wayne Ricks, and Elias Jackson) of EII created the Mitch Dirton Golf Tournament. In its second year the event has attracted golf enthusiasts from all over the state.
EII’s brief existence is one that should make all of its members and supporters proud. In 21 years, EII has proven to be an organization committed to upholding the Cardinal Principles of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift) as well as providing much needed services to the Greater New Haven community.