Kappa Psi History
The History of Kappa Psi Chapter
Authors: Bro. Kevin Matthews (1984) and Bro. Dr. Ramsey L. Smith (2004)
Dr. William Montague Cobb, M.D.
Founder and First Basileus Kappa Psi Chapter
In the 1926 Oracle, Brother Horace Fitchett, the first chapter editor of Kappa Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated wrote: “Whenever deep seated and fertile ideas have their conception in the minds of foresighted and ambitious youth, they must find their lodging place in reality, even though the initial efforts for the attainment of tangible results be thwarted.”
For more than a year, professional Omega men at the Howard University Medical School had considered forming a chapter that would be responsive to their needs and that would “adequately integrate the ideas and concentrate the efforts of Alpha Chapter men for a greater Omega in Washington,” according to Fitchett. Brother W. Montague Cobb said the chapter was formed to include students in the professional schools “because of their more serious interests and dissatisfaction with many aspects of the undergraduate chapter. “Kappa Psi eliminated brutality in its initiations, Cobb said, as well as the “one-man blackball without a reason” and the prejudices formerly exhibited against Caribbean students.
On October 31, 1926 an informal meeting of all professional and graduate Omega men at Howard was called at 500 T Street, N.W., the “Omega House.” At this meeting Fitchett wrote, “The idea of creating a professional chapter was reiterated and heartily favored by everyone present.”“Definite action as taken,” he wrote, “by the formation of a tentative organization, the permanency of which was conditioned by an acceptance of the idea by the Supreme Council and the subsequent granting of a charter.”
The following officers of Kappa Psi were elected:
- Bro. Montague Cobb, Basileus
- Bro. Floyd W. Green, Keeper of Records and Seal
- Bro. Lincoln Johnson, Keeper of Finance
- Bro. J.C. Wilson, Chaplain
- Bro. J.D. Martin, Keeper of Peace
- Bro. Horace Fitchett, Chapter Editor
On Friday, November 19, 1926, Kappa Psi was chartered as a chapter for professional and graduate students at Howard. Charter members were: Montague Cobb, Floyd Green, Lincoln Johnson, E. Horace Fitchett, M.J. Allen, James Carter, Thurman Dodson, William Forrester, Luther Gaither, A.B. Green, Maurice Johnson, Theodore Lovelace, J.D. Martin, George McDonald, Sidney Sumby, Frederick Watts, and J.C. Wilson. Fitchett wrote that Kappa Psi’s aim was to “integrate our ideas, concentrate our efforts, and project them for a greater Omega at Howard.”
Kappa Psi continued to serve the needs of professional and graduate students at Howard until 1938, when the chapter became inactive. In 1947, Brother Charles Williams, a law student at Howard University, revived Kappa Psi. The same needs that existed in 1926 and led to the formation of Kappa Psi also led to the chapter’s revival-fellowship and camaraderie with men of like backgrounds and equal goals.
As the years progressed, Kappa Psi Chapter continued its intermediate chapter status, extending its influence beyond the Howard professional schools. The chapter also included Omega Men attending graduate school at other area universities, brothers recently graduated or relocated to the District, and undergraduates on the various campuses of the District of Columbia which did not have chapters of their own. Kappa Psi has given birth to three undergraduate chapters in the D.C. Metropolitan area: Omicron Gamma Chapter at D.C. Teachers College (now the University of the District of Columbia), Epsilon Sigma at Bowie State University, and Delta Theta at Southeastern University (now at Georgetown University and George Washington University). Kappa Psi has also included undergraduates from Georgetown, George Washington, American and Catholic Universities. Kappa Psi prides itself in the tradition of working with our undergraduate brothers serving as friends, mentors, and chapter advisors. Upon graduation, many of these brothers make Kappa Psi their new fraternity home.
The chapter has been the home of many notable Omega Men. The legacy of the chapter’s founder, Dr. W. Montague Cobb, not only lives on in the field of Physical Anthropology and the NAACP has immortalized it. The Montague Cobb Health Advocacy award was established to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health. Dr. Cobb served as the national NAACP President from 1976 to 1983. Brother Togo West, Kappa Psi 1966, was a Presidential Cabinet member during the administration of President Bill Clinton where he served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Many men who have been initiated in the chapter or have made the chapter their second fraternal home have served the nation and world as Ministers, Medical Doctors, Research Scientist, Educators, Lawyers, Firemen, businessmen and etcetera.
Social Action has been woven in the fabric of Kappa Psi throughout its history. The chapter has consistently implemented the chapter’s nationally mandated programs such as Achievement Week and Talent Hunt. Besides the nationally mandated programs, Kappa Psi has developed and been involved with unique programs to serve the community of Washington, D.C. For example, Kappa Psi has participated in Project Giveback, We Feed Our People, the Million Man March in 1995 and the Million More March in 2005. In 2003 Kappa Psi introduced their Debate Tournament to the Washington, D.C. community as a way to promote scholarship and the art of debate to D.C. high school students. This program has grown exponentially since its inception and has been received awards from the Fraternity and the Washington, D.C. Pan-Hellenic council 2009 Youth Project of the Year. Fund raising and volunteering for public health causes has also been a passion for the chapter. The chapter has donated human capital and raised thousands of dollars for the Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure. Also, the chapter organized a Col. Charles Young Trail Ride to has raised thousands of dollars for the American Diabetes Association. The D.C. Pan-Hellenic council acknowledged the outstanding nature of this event by awarding it Social Action Project of the Year in 2009. The chapter has also hosted a Halloween Party for the D.C. Association for Retarded Citizens; a Christmas Party for children of the Columbia Heights neighborhood sponsored Holiday Toy Drives at Harriet Tubman Elementary School and served as volunteers at Share metro food distribution center. On the District level the level, Kappa Psi has been award 3rdDistrict Social Action Chapter of the Year in 2009. As testament to its commitment to community service, Kappa Psi received the President’s Volunteer Service Award which was presented to the chapter by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation at the January 15, 2011 Omega Psi Phi Kick-off to the Centennial Celebration Gala.
Social Action is not the only focus of the chapter. In the true Omega Sprit, the men of Kappa Psi worshiped at church together, performed together in the Chapter’s Gospel Choir and host an annual Memorial Service for our deceased brothers. The chapter has been known to host a variety of social events highlighted by the Annual Boat ride, which has been going strong for over four decades. Kappa Psi has been the home of a nationally renowned Step team. The Kappa Psi Hop Team has had many accomplishments including an appearance on Black Entertainment Television’s 106 and Park television show in 2004, winners of the 2008 Third District Step Show and they participated in the 2008 Grand Conclave Step Show.
2011 marked the 85th Anniversary of Kappa Psi Chapter. The chapter has been a vital part of the cultural life of Washington, D.C. throughout its existence, and has served as a training ground for some of America’s most prominent leaders and professionals. While the chapter officially transitioned to graduate status in 1998, we remain true to our legacy of initiating graduate and professional school men at Howard University and serving the young professional brothers and aspiring professionals in the District of Columbia.