Omega Delta Phi prides itself on many things: the diversity of its membership being one of the things we strive to grow further and which we try to translate into actions that are reflective of an organization that celebrates it and doesn’t just use it as a marketable term. Since its inception, ODPhi has been an organization devoted to the principle of inclusion and education: providing to ANY man a diverse fraternal experience coinciding with a higher education. It is this principle and commitment to diversity that draws members from all walks of life and which shows us that the brotherhood truly represents “One Culture, Any Race”.
In commemoration of Black History Month, the 7 Visions staff sat with some of our membership to amplify their VOICES as Black members of Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. We felt it was important to hear their stories and to delve into the importance of celebrating Black History and the contributions that the African American community has had on society as well as within our organization. It is important to note that these interviews and experiences shared are not meant to be taken as a blanket statement affirming the experience of all of our Black brothers but rather, to show us the diversity that exists even within one’s own identities: be they race, sexual orientation, religion, or even their identity within ODPhi.
Ryan Smith joined Omega Delta Phi at the University of Texas at Arlington, Tau Chapter, in the Fall of 2011. Smith states that “being in an organization with people of color, like myself, has shown me that we all share somewhat of the same experiences growing up as a minority group. It has opened my eyes by seeing how our cultures share many similarities while also being unique in our own respective ways.”
Smith believes that it is of paramount importance that his brother celebrate Black History Month because doing so holds the organization accountable to the mantra of “One Culture, Any Race”.
“I believe that it is very important that my brothers celebrate Black History Month because it reaffirms that this brotherhood is one that welcomes any man from any walk of life and by celebrating a month of people that are a critical part of this country’s history, it shows a great amount of grace and respect” Smith shared.
Like Smith, Nicholas B. Harris joined the brotherhood by way of the Alpha Lambda chapter at Stephen F. Austin State University during the Fall of 2011.
He believes celebrating Black History Month is not only necessary but essential.
“Black History Month is a celebration of not just our history but our progress as a people. With each new day brings newer and more exciting revelations and this is a way to magnify and celebrate those things”
Brother Harris credits brothers like Johnnie Beavers and Adam Williams for igniting that burning desire in him, to pursue membership in ODPhi. He reminisces and looks back to the actives who he looked up to for being “pillars” of his campus community and him wanting to follow suit. Harris has enjoyed his interactions through ODPhi and understands that although he joined an organization labeled as Historically Latino fraternity, the brotherhood truly is multicultural- not only in membership but in creed.
“It is very important, simply because representation is key. We are a true multicultural organization and the world should be able to see it though our actions” he shared.
Cierre Jones, an active member of the Beta Nu Chapter at Oklahoma State University echoes those very sentiments. He says Black History Month is important because it symbolizes the acknowledgement of the people who, involuntarily, built this country.
“Recognizing the great Black scientists, educators, social leaders, etc. Its also and appreciation for the culture of Black people. Joining a brotherhood like ODPhi has allowed me to undetstand the similarities between the cultures. We are not only minorities, but our backgrounds are very similar” Jones shared.
Jones considers it to be a personal challenge, he says it is vital as it is a chance to gain knowledge, educate the self, and understand another group of individuals and due to the fact that in school and in the media, the truth about Black people isn’t shared enough. Black History Month is vital as an educational guidance for those who may not be informed and so they can see the truth behind the history and current events surrounding Black America, he stated.
Raphael Williams, from Colorado State University, Pueblo was activated in the Spring of 2019 and he believes that joi
ning ODPhi enhanced his experience as an African American brother in a Historically Latino Fraternity with multicultural membership.
“I feel its important for brothers to not only celebrate Black History Month accordingly but to also understand why it is important. I would say that it every holiday dedicated to a culture or ethnicity should be celebrated accordingly” he shared.
Williams says that he was drawn to Omega Delta Phi due to the connections and how brothers treated each other. The community influence and how ODPhi serves not only those in need but also each other, the home away from home aspect, he finalized.
These five voices are just a small sample of experiences had and to be had; from brothers who identify as Black and who have paved their way as successful and Honorable Knights, on their respective campuses and communities. As we look back to another successful Black History Month, we commemorate all the leaders, the courageous individuals who set forth into motion the country we live in today. The pain, the glory, the success, the journey that leads us to out current state: blackness is still seen as a weapon and it is more than evident that we have a long way to go before really being able to claim that racism is a thing of the past. But with men like these and with our strong held conviction and commitment to preserving the history that precedes us, the fight is already in our favor. Black History Month matters and so do the Black Lives that embody the Black experience we say we celebrate during the month of February.