FOUNDER: HONORABLE DOCTOR OSCAR JAMES COOPER
May 20, 1888 – Feb 24, 1972
FOUNDER: HONORABLE PROFESSOR FRANK COLEMAN
Oscar James Cooper was born in Washington, DC. Upon finishing the elementary schools of Washington, in 1909 Cooper entered Howard University, where he obtained his baccalaureate degree in 1913 and his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1917. Some of the academic subjects proved little interest for him because his all-absorbing interest in college was Biology. His aptness and proficiency along this line drew him to Professor Just, who was teaching Biology at Howard. So accomplished was Brother Cooper in this subject that he was made a laboratory assistant in Biology.
Brother Cooper thus was the link, between our other Founders, all Juniors, in the fall of 1911, and Professor Just, the eminent, young (only 5 years Cooper’s senior), Associate Professor, who advised the three young pioneers… Cooper, Coleman and Love.
Brother Cooper early on showed that he believed both in work and in pleasure. He liked to work; to work hard for the achievement of great ends, but he also liked to socialize. Accordingly, in the founding of Omega, Brother Cooper worked unsparingly along with the other Founders many a night until late in the morning.
Upon completing his medical studies, Brother Cooper settled in Philadelphia and worked untiringly and persistently until he built up one of the most lucrative practices to be found among the physicians of Philadelphia, practicing medicine for 50 years. His contributions and awards in the field of medicine were many.
He maintained an excellent general library and an excellent medical library. It was a real inspiration to tour these libraries and through his office. Brother Cooper was ever discovering new techniques in his field and efficiently applying them. He went on like his friends to serve Omega until his dying day in 1972.
Ω Chapter: Founder Cooper is interred at Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Ambler, PA.
Jul 11, 1890 – Feb 24, 1967
FOUNDER: HONORABLE BISHOP EDGAR AMOS LOVE
Frank Coleman, an undergraduate and best friend of Oscar J. Cooper and Edgar A. Love, was born in Washington, DC. He matriculated through the Washington, DC segregated school system and graduated from M Street High School. He entered Howard University in 1909 and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard in 1913. His undergraduate record at Howard was so outstanding he was appointed a professor, and later, head of the Physics Department of Howard.
Bro. Coleman went on to pursue further study and received a Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago and took advance courses at the University of Pennsylvania, completing all the requirements for his Doctorate except completion of his thesis. When America entered the World War, he joined the army, became a first lieutenant, and served honorably overseas as one of the few black Army officers in World War I. Aside from carrying on his regular work, Brother Coleman was a member of the Boys Committee of YMCA, a Mason, an American Legionnaire and a Congregationalist.
Founder Coleman dated, and later married, Mary Edna Brown, one of the Founders of Delta Sigma Theta, creating the beginning of the bond between the Ques and the Deltas. Sealing the early tradition of the Brotherly-Sisterly love, Grace Coleman, sister of Omega Founder Frank Coleman was elected Delta president in 1914. In 1929, Anna Johnson Julian, wife of Percy L. Julian (Γ’19) and internationally famous chemist, became the fourth National president of Delta Sigma Theta.
Because of these early strong and significant relationships at Howard, the Deltas chose the purple and gold African violet as their official flower, to further signify the special bond that they had with the Omegas. Traditionally then at the Founders’ Howard University Alpha Chapters, the Ques and the Deltas were brothers and sisters in Greek life. This spread throughout the nation as Delta & Que Chapters were founded on various college campuses. Over the years, Delta & Que Chapters as well as individual Deltas and Ques have retained this brother-sister affinity.
Ω Chapter: Founder Coleman is interred at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Suitland, MD.
Sept 10, 1891 – May 1, 1974
FOUNDER: HONORABLE PROFESSOR ERNEST EVERETT JUST
Edgar Amos Love was born in Harrisburg, Virginia, the son of Rev. Julius C. Love and Mrs. Susie C. Love. He received his early training in the public schools of Virginia and Maryland. In 1909, he graduated from the Academy of Morgan College and entered Howard University. In 1913, he graduated Cum Laude from Howard with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1916 after three years of additional hard work, he received the Bachelor of Divinity degree from Howard University. To further his training, he entered Boston University, from where he received the Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree in 1918. Later he spent two sessions of graduate worked at the University of Chicago. Because of his distinguished work in religion as a teacher, pastor and inspired civic worker for the advancement of all humanity, Morgan College conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in June 1935.
Brother Love pastored for fifteen months in Fairmount, Maryland, four years in Washington, D.C., three years in Annapolis, Maryland, three years in Wheeling, West Virginia, and two years in Baltimore Maryland, directing the great John Wesley M.C. Church. As a pastor, Rev. Love, inspiring and efficient, made the Church, wherever he was, function as a community center for the people of the neighborhood, as well as a temple of worship.
When the call of the United States came for our youth to do service in France, our Founder promptly entered the Officers Training Camp at Des Moines, Iowa and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant. He was assigned as Chaplain to the 368 Infantry, with which unit he saw service in the Vosges Mountains, and in the Argonne Forest, spending eight days in the great offensive, where he was gassed. While in the army he had supervision over 3,000 men.
Aside from administering to the spiritual needs of the soldiers, he also taught in the army school. He helped to organize a school for illiterates in the 809th Pioneer Infantry, which was developed into a regular school system. The school included in its curriculum subjects ranging from reading and writing to motor mechanics and philosophy. Fourteen teachers were drafted from the ranks and constituted the faculty.
In 1919, after being honorably discharged from the United States Army, Bishop Love became Professor of History and Bible at Morgan College. At the same time, he served as Director of Athletics. In addition, he served as Principal of the Academy.
Bishop Love was community-minded; believing that religion is life in God and should be the guiding force in all affairs, he always found time from his religious duties to be active in civic matters. For instance, he was a delegate from the state of Maryland to the First American Legion Convention that was held at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Because of his high attainments, he was appointed by Governor Ritchie of Maryland as a Member of the Maryland Interracial Commission.
He was the first Grand Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and served in that capacity for three terms. And not coincidently, Brother Love and Delta Sigma Theta Founder Edith Young dated as students at Howard and remained close friends throughout their lifetime.
Ω Chapter: Founder Love is Interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Baltimore, MD.
As a driving force and Founder of our great Fraternity, as a Soldier, an Educator, and a Minister, Bishop Love had an unusual career and has endeared himself into the hearts of many thousands.
Aug 14, 1883 – Oct 14, 1941
Ernest Everett Just was born in Charleston, SC. His grandfather, Charles Just was a prominent and successful member of Charleston's free black community before the Civil War. His father, Charles Frazier Just, died of alcoholism when Just was four years old. His mother, Mary Matthews Just, went to work in the phosphate mines on James Island, also founding a town, "Maryville." At 16, Just received a teaching degree from South Carolina College and Mary Just sent him to Kimball Academy in Meriden, NH. The school burned down and his mother died while Just was away. After her funeral, he never returned to South Carolina again.
Just first became enthralled with biology at Dartmouth University. In 1907, he graduated magna cum laude, winning virtually every prize there was to win, as well as honors in sociology, history, botany and zoology; he was the only black man in his graduating class of 287. When Just graduated from Dartmouth, he was immediately offered a job as an English teacher at Howard University. Two years later, he accepted an appointment as an instructor in biology, and eventually devoted all his time to teaching biology. In 1912, he established and became the head of Howard's Department of Zoology.
While at Howard, Professor Just was approached by Oscar J. Cooper, Frank Coleman and Edgar A. Love, about starting a fraternity on Howard's campus. Fearful of the political threat a secret organization of young blacks might pose to Howard's white administration, the university's faculty and administration opposed the whole idea. Professor Just worked at mediating the controversy. And on December 15, 1911, the Alpha chapter of Omega Psi Phi was organized at Howard University. Just would later become the first "Elected Active" (honorary) member of the Fraternity on February 28, 1912 through Alpha Chapter.
Because of the difficulty black scientist at that time had obtaining appointments, Just's first inquiries into the possibility of conducting basic research were not initially encouraged. Eventually Frank Lillie, Director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, noticed his determination, brought him to the MBL to study and act as a lab assistant. Just became fascinated with problems of fertilization and development. In 1912, he published his first paper in the Biological Bulletin. In 1915, the NAACP awarded Just the first Spingarn Medal. After many delays and obstacles, he obtained his Ph.D., in 1916, summa cum laude, from the University of Chicago.
Though he experienced a fairly warm reception at the MBL, he found his opportunities in the US quite limited; there was no way to obtain an appointment at a "white" university, and few traditionally "black" universities had, resources or inclination to support pure research in the sciences. He had better success in Europe, where he worked in Italy, France, and Germany. He published over 50 papers between 1912 and 1937. His ideas about embryonic development and fertilization were radical, innovative, and (for his time) unusually philosophical. In 1939, he published his magnum opus, The Biology of the Cell Surface a beautifully written and oddly accessible treatise on cell development and fertilization which also extrapolated his ideas into the realms of evolution, medicine, philosophy and even religion.
His complex scientific life was mirrored by an equally complex personal life. He was married to Ethel Highwarden in 1912, and they had three children; Margaret, Mary and Highwarden. Ethel was refined, sophisticated, well-educated and extremely intelligent, but their marriage was difficult. He was often preoccupied with work worries when at home in Washington, D.C., and, though a black scientist might be accepted at Woods Hole, Ethel and the children were decidedly unwelcome. While in Europe, he had two affairs with German women, and these affairs (a black man with white women) as much as the radical nature of his science, shocked the American scientific world.
Just found it more and more difficult to find funding for his research as he began to think more independently. He chafed at his duties at Howard, and longed for a life of pure research. He was able to work in Europe for a short time, but at the advent of World War II, had to flee with his new wife, Hedwig Schnetzler. He returned with her and their daughter, Elizabeth, to the States. Once back in the US, though quite ill, he continued to try and find support. Dr. Just died of pancreatic cancer in NJ in 1941, at the age of 53.
Ω Chapter: Founder Just is interred at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Suitland, MD.