A Landmark Celebration

The Tau Beta chapter of Omega Psi Phi, the first African American fraternity on campus, was established in 1971

Above, in 2021, at the 50th anniversary reception, top row, from left: Charles Payne CCAS’74; Billy Blunt SBC’74; Jonathan Muse RC’78, GSC’94; Ben Calaf CCAS’74; Eugene Alston SBC’76; Jorge Rodriquez CCAS’74; Oscar Spencer; Lawrence Jones UCC’74; and Andre Robinson CCAS’74. Bottom row, from left: Anthony Ross, Mel McDonald, and Anthony Lingo CCAS’74.

By Christina Hernandez Sherwood

Members of the first chapter of an African American fraternity at Rutgers University–Camden celebrated the group’s 50th anniversary with a weekend of events in August. “It was like a homecoming,” said Larry Jones UCC’74, a retired banker from Estero, Florida. “The experience was one you would get when you hadn’t seen family for decades.”

After a tour of campus and a reception on the Camden waterfront, the reunion culminated with a dinner, which included a moving tribute to five original brothers who have passed away.

The Tau Beta chapter of Omega Psi Phi, which was very involved in the 1970s in hosting a food drive and supporting East Camden children during summer break, folded about a decade after its founding. However, the original members kept in touch, wishing each other “happy anniversary” every May 8, which is the date in 1971 when 11 brothers were inducted. Elbert Saddler CCAS’75, a retired university psychologist who lives in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, said he is proud of the organization’s history. “It’s something I can look back on and say, ‘I made a contribution on campus to Rutgers–Camden,’” he said. “It’s very important that we go through life and we’re making a contribution.”

Although the Omega Psi Phi chapter is no longer active at Rutgers–Camden, there are six Greek organizations with active charters on campus that belong to the National Pan-Hellenic Council, an association of African American fraternities and sororities. These include the fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, and Phi Beta Sigma. For more information, visit greeks.camden.rutgers.edu.

At left, in 1972, Omega Psi Phi members on the Paul Robeson Library steps, from left: Charles Payne CCAS’74; Anthony Lingo CCAS’74; Elbert Saddler CCAS’75; Eugene Alston SBC’76; Paul McNair CCAS’74; William Spencer; Walter Green; Billy Blunt SBC’74; Ben Calaf CCAS’74; and Ector Quiles CCAS’74, GSC’02. Seated, from left: Horace Worthington III CCAS’74; Mel Glenn, and Jorge Rodriquez CCAS’74.

 

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