Third District History
ORIGINS OF THE CURRENT THIRD DISTRICT
BY VERNON E. JOHNSON
To know and appreciate the history of the Third District, you must first understand how districts in general were derived. That is, how and why they came into being? How did they fit into the internal organization of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity? What is the meaning of the term "District Representative"? The answers to these questions changed with time. They did not mean the same during the early days of the Fraternity as they mean today.
From the founding of Omega throughout its first decade, there was no such thing as "Districts" or "District Representatives". The Grand Basileus had the total and personal responsibility of administering all facets of the Fraternity—a job that was becoming increasingly more difficult as the organization became larger and larger. However, this was to change during the second decade of the Fraternity's existence.
In 1922, the Eleventh Annual Grand Conclave meeting in Philadelphia, PA authorized the creation of the office of Vice Grand Basileus. The chapters ratified this change in 1923. Now, the Grand Basileus had a helper. The new official was specifically charged to "expand Omega". Thus, the Grand Basileus was relieved of this tedious duty and could concentrate on other aspects of running the Fraternity. Brother John W. Love was the first to fill this new position. and he set out immediately to increase the number of chapters and number of members in the Fraternity. Even so, he needed help.'
The same Conclave that created the office of the Vice Grand Basileus empowered Grand Basileus J. Alston Atkins to appoint five "District Representatives". These men were to be emissaries of the Grand Basileus and were to supervise chapters as assigned, but they were to function under the supervision of the Vice Grand Basileus. Specifically, they were to concentrate on helping the Vice Grand Basileus in the expansion of Omega. To accomplish this, each representative was to visit all the chapters in his area at least once during 1923. Further, he was to scout the area for possible locations of new chapters, and he was to use his influence to establish new chapters in the preferred areas.'
The next important step in the development of "Districts" occurred in 1929 when Beta Phi Chapter of Durham, North Carolina obtained approval of its District Representative to call a conference of representatives from the various chapters in North Carolina to discuss matter of mutual interest. Thus, on March 26, 1929 the first State Conference was held in Greensboro, North Carolina followed by a second one on April 18, 1929 in Durham at which time a permanent organization was established. The North Carolina State Conference met in 1930 and 1931, but because the Great Depression was discontinued after that until 1936.' In the meantime, the idea of a state conference was carried from North Carolina to Virginia by Ellis F. Corbett who had recently received his B. S. degree from North Carolina A&T College where he was a member of Mu Psi chapter.
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