The Birth of "Star of the North" Epsilon Rho Chapter
In the early 1960s, after an initial communication with the National Executive Secretary Brother H. Carl Moultrie, Brother Moultrie encouraged the local Omega Men to consider establishing a graduate chapter. On Friday, March 9, 1962 Epsilon Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. was chartered. 1962 was the year following the Golden Anniversary of the fraternity. The nine names on the original charter application are Brothers Ray Pleasant, John Sims Sr., William O. White, Albert McClure, Tyler Howell Jr., Thomas Stovall, Wilbur Cartwright, Ted Allen, and Maceo Moody. Brother Ray Pleasant and Brother Tyler Howell Jr. were elected as the first Basileus and Vice Basileus, respectively. As other brothers such as John Work IV, Cleveland Vaughn, Jesse Overton Sr. arrived, the chapter grew in number and stature.
The Early Years: 1962-1972
Founding Charter Member, Ray Pleasant stated a strange dynamic worked against the expansion and influence of the fraternity in the Twin Cities during the mid to late sixties. Local social clubs appeared to have more of an influence with the community than fraternities and sororities. This dynamic often resulted in a lukewarm acceptance of the fraternity during the 1960’s. This was very difficult and frustrating for the members of Epsilon Rho, especially when the members of the fraternity themselves were entrenched in the community. During the 1960’s, African Americans were involved with large-scale protests concerning social injustice in America. The brothers of Epsilon Rho were pillars in the leadership of the NAACP, leading the work to advance the civil rights for people of color in the Twin Cities. Epsilon Rho sponsored numerous programs supporting the community from the arts to activism. Most notably, the chapter chartered a bus and ventured to Washington, D.C. on August 28th, 1963, to attend the historic “March on Washington,” in support of Brother Roy Wilkins.
Dogmatic Years: 1973-1986
The membership of Epsilon Rho was at its peak during the seventies. The chapter helped to re- establish the Juneteenth celebration in the Twin Cities, starting first in the Oak Park Neighborhood Center. The impact of Epsilon Rho's service shown as the light of Omega in Minnesota. The black community begin to take great interest in all Omega events across the city. Community events and functions sponsored by Epsilon Rho Chapter were covered by the local media and the chapter begin to gained notoriety as a premier service organization.
In the 1980’s Epsilon Rho took the position of recognition in the 10th District. In 1981, Minneapolis was selected to host the 10th District Convention. Over the years numerous members of Epsilon Rho were recognized with the distinction of District “Omega Man of the Year.” In 1981, Gov. Albert H. Quie signed a proclamation designating April 2nd - 5th, as Omega Psi Phi Week for the State of Minnesota. Due to the chapter's commitment to service, local and District level achievements and enthusiasm for Omega, Epsilon Rho became known to all as “Star of the North.”
Rebirth of Knowledge: 1987-1999
The late eighties brought about the start of the InFRATmation, which was the statewide fraternity newsletter. This newsletter was started by Brother Ransom Stafford, improved by Brother Raymond Wood, which eventually gave birth to the 10th District “Quemunicator.” This tool has continued to be a constructive tool for keeping all members of the fraternity current and up to date on news, announcements, and fraternity events.
During the nineties, Epsilon Rho continued to be recognized as one of the stronger chapters in the 10th District. Several of Epsilon Rho's membership served in key positions at the District level; Brother Herb Collins, served as District Keeper of Finance, Brother Jimmy Thompson served as 10th District Audit Chair and Brother James Montague served as the first District Automation Chair. Brothers Ransom Stafford, Julian Stafford, Leroy Felder, and Horace Allen were awarded the “Omega Man of the Year” in the 10th District in back-to-back years.
Brothers Raymond Wood, Elmer Blackwell, and James Montague all rising stars within the 10th District would also have the honor of being named "Omega Man of the Year". Members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., at the 10th District and national level were clearly aware of the commitment and dedication that Epsilon Rho had to the community. In the spring of 1994, Epsilon Rho was again awarded the honor of hosting the 10th District Convention.
Brother Wood also served as acting 10th District Counselor upon the resignation of the District Counselor Bro. Rocky Coe. He was elected as 10th District Counselor at the following convention. The brotherhood would elect Brother Wood to the office of First-Vice District Representative the following year. He would serve under Brother Ronald Hughes administration from 1992 to 1995. Brother Wood, played a key role in the establishment of the 10th District's 501(c)(3) as the signatory of the application for the Omega Educational Foundation, which provides scholarships to deserving Undergraduate and Graduate brothers to pursue their postsecondary endeavors. Epsilon Rho established its Halloween Extravaganza, which later became the MasQUErade event, to help provide financial support for the chapter’s philanthropic efforts.
During the late 90's, Epsilon Rho recognized a greater need for mentoring. To answer the call Brother Howard Robinson in collaboration with the YMCA implemented, The Little Brothers of Omega, a mentoring program servicing youth from the “troubled” North Side of Minneapolis. During this time, Epsilon Rho also emphasized a strategic focus on scholarship with the establishment of the Twin Cities Omega Foundation, which serves as a non-profit support organization that has awarded thousands of dollars to local students to continue their academic ambitions post high school. The brothers used traditional social programs while incorporating the community to continue raising money for scholarships for local graduating high school students.
The New Millennium:
Epsilon Rho is built on a rich heritage of servant leadership. Under the leadership of Basileus, Brother Dr. Thomas Adams, Epsilon Rho was selected to host the 2003 10th District Convention. Also, Brother Robert Browne served as the District Director of Public Relations from 2010 to 2012. Epsilon Rho answered the call by providing volunteers to support Bridging, a social service organization that provides basic home essentials to over 90,000 local families. In 2011, Epsilon Rho went door-to-door providing much needed supplies to tornado victims in the lower income areas of North Minneapolis. Also, Governor Dayton appointed our very own Brother James Burroughs to the newly created position of Chief Inclusion Officer for the State of Minnesota.
The chapter continued to solidify itself as a premier organization. At the 2010 Charlotte Conclave, Epsilon Rho was selected as the host chapter for the 78th Grand Conclave (2012) to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This would be the first time in many years that a Conclave would be hosted in the Talented 10th District. Under the leadership of Basileus, Brother Robert Toatley and Conclave Grand Marshal, Brother Stuart Turner, Epsilon Rho and the brothers of the 10th District hosted one of Omega's most successful Grand Conclaves. Also, Brother Ira Whitlock, Esq. served with distinction as the 10th District Counselor from 2016-2019.
In March of 2018 Epsilon Rho celebrated its 56-year legacy of service to the Twin Cities by re-establishing its signature event, the "MasQUErade Ball”. Brother Alex Tittle chaired the event. Epsilon Rho was able to raise funds to support programming ranging from academics to the arts.
Epsilon Rho and its members continue to receive accolades for their efforts. The chapter has received District level recognition for its reclamation and retention efforts and superior service. Its members have received the International Graduate and Student of the Year Awards. Additionally, Epsilon Rho was recognized for having the 10th District Graduate Student of the Year in back to back years, 2018 and 2019. Brother Brigadier General Dr. David Hamlar was promoted to Major General (Brevet) by Governor Dayton. Brother Hamlar became the highest-ranking African American in the history of the Minnesota Air National Guard.
Epsilon Rho continues to form meaningful collaborative relationships with the civic and business communities, helping to serve as a loud voice to address the disparities that plague the black community in Minnesota. Over Epsilon Rho's history the chapter has consistently held up the shining light of Omega for all to see. With a renewed focus on reclamation and service, the chapter has continued to draw Omega Men from near and far guided by Omega's "Star of the North".