IOTA (#9) CHAPTER HISTORY by Bro. Melvin M. Slater
November 25, 2002
This is the history of the Illustrious IOTA Chapter of the Tenth District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. IOTA is the 9th letter of the Greek Omega-bit.
The 9th chapter of the greatest fraternity ever, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. IOTA was chartered in 1920 as an undergraduate chapter [in Atlantic City, N.J.]. This was during the Fraternity’s “Period of Formation and Exploration”, which was from 1911-1921. Then the Fraternity reached its “Period of Expansion and Internal Development”, this period, along with Founder Bro. Ernest Everett Just’s viewpoint on Chicago and the University of Chicago, resulted in a drastic impact and change of IOTA Chapter. IOTA Chapter was re-chartered as an undergraduate chapter November 1923 on the campus of the University of Chicago (for it was at the University of Chicago that Bro. Just received his Ph.D.). IOTA Chapter was comprised of intelligent and high caliber Omega men who were recognized as dangerous by whites and admired and well respected by Blacks. In 1926, IOTA’s influence brought the 15th Grand Conclave to Chicago, where they and Sigma Omega (Chicago’s graduate chapter) hosted. Chicago hosted the 27th Grand Conclave (in 1938). And again hosted the 35th Grand Conclave to Chicago in 1949, where both IOTA and Sigma Omega chapters contributed $5000 for the down payment and purchase of the first National Headquarters Building in Washington, D.C. to house the administrative offices (also in 1949). Sigma Omega chapter has been a friend to IOTA chapter. Sigma Omega supported the undergraduate Brothers (who were initiated into Sigma Omega chapter in 1956 and 1957) in reactivating IOTA Undergraduate chapter via the May 27, 1957 “Application for Undergraduate Chapter Charter” and the September 9, 1957 petition. Those undergraduate Brothers were James Oldham (Industrial Education class of 1960), Dewey Jones (Liberal Arts class of 1957), Leon Walker (Education class of 1958), Henry Stenson (Education class of 1957), Jerry T. Jones (Electrical Engineering class of 1960), Carl Lamarr (Music class of 1961), Elbert Ford (Education class of 1957), and Clarence Hanna (Education class of 1957). Tenth District Representative Bro. Abraham Ulmer, Jr. wrote the following in the application, “I recommend reestablishment of IOTA chapter in the Chicago area. The city is rich in prospective members and a well organized chapter should flourish there.” In the petition, Vice 10th District Representative Bro. Virgil G. Trice, Jr. wrote, “The purpose of this petition is the reactivation of IOTA chapter as an undergraduate chapter in the metropolitan Chicago area. …our strength is in the Chicago Teachers College… This group was organized by and is currently operating as an integral part of the local graduate chapter, Sigma Omega. …we are placing our emphasis on the schools in Enclosure B: [Chicago Teachers College, Roosevelt University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois (Navy Pier Branch)]… Sigma Omega chapter has worked very diligently to effect the development of an undergraduate group. Interest is currently at a peak. This opportunity to further the development of the Fraternity should be consummated as soon as possible.” As time went on, Brothers of IOTA Chapter began to fill the rolls of Chapters around the world, but especially Sigma Omega. IOTA Chapter produced high caliber Brothers like 'Past Grand Basileus' Judge Marion Garnett (Omega Chapter), Ted Davis (Omega Chapter), Byron Legardy, Bob Mitchell, Billy Rivers, and the last undergraduate pledge line (1981), which included Jeff McKamey and Melvin M. Slater (current members of Iota). IOTA began to give birth to chapters throughout the United States of America (North, South, East, and West) and around the world because IOTA began to have summer pledge lines. New members from these summer lines returned back to their respective campuses in the fall in the name of Omega for the world to see. It was members of IOTA that founded Iota Delta (IOTA’s sister chapter) at Northern Illinois University and Epsilon Eta at Chicago State University to name a few. One could even include Rho Psi and other well-known chapters. Many chose IOTA, but IOTA only chose a few, seeing that “The value of our Fraternity is not in numbers; but in men, in real Brotherhood. Eight men thoroughly immersed in the true Omega Spirit are far greater assets than eighty with lukewarm enthusiasm.” On February 12, 1995. IOTA Chapter was replaced back to its rightful place of prominence and greatness. Number nine was back on line! Although many have and will claim to be made in IOTA chapter, Omega had no new members entering the Fraternity via IOTA chapter between the last undergraduate line of December 5, 1981 and the re-chartering on February 12, 1995. IOTA’s strength comes from God and has always been cognizant of and fought against the social, political, and economic injustices and disenfranchisement of Black America since its inception. I have not done the history of IOTA Chapter true justice, but this was just meant to be an overview of IOTA’s rich and glorious history.