This is Alpha Chapter

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This is Alpha Chapter #19 - 7/4/12

Alpha Chapter, Football and the founding of Beta Chapter

Above:  Howard University Football Team circa 1913.  Three Alpha Chapter Bros were on the Ball team in 1913 and in the above picture: Griffith Brannon (Alpha 1912), Lucio Brown (Alpha 1912 and Henry Hall (Alpha 1913)

Every Bro knows that Beta Chapter was established at Lincoln University in 1914 by a delegation of three Alpha Chapter Bros, Oscar J. Cooper (Founder), Griffith Brannon (Alpha 1912) and John McMorris (Alpha 1913) commissioned by the Grand Conclave/Alpha Chapter.  What you may not know is why the Alpha Chapter Bros decided to select Lincoln as the home to Fraternity’s second Chapter, Beta.


We know that the Bros had other options.  There was a request from men at the University of Michigan to form a Chapter there in early 1913. We also know that all of the Love Brothers (Edgar, William, Julius and John), who by 1914, were all part of Alpha Chapter, went to prep school in Baltimore at Morgan College (now Morgan State University) prior to attending Howard.   Conventional wisdom would suggest that Morgan would be prime candidate given its relationship to the Love Brothers and proximity to D.C.  So why did the Bros select Lincoln?


The speculative answer lies in the sport of football.  Howard’s football team was organized in 1893.  Lincoln University put together a team in 1894 and their first opponent was Howard University the same year.  These two combatants would not meet again on the gridiron until 1904.  From that point through the 40s, Howard played Lincoln every year except two (1906 & 1915).  Many historians consider this rivalry the first Black football classic as both schools, along with Hampton, were the best football teams in black college sports for over a decade. As such, this game was considered the social event of the year.  The game on November 30, 1911, two weeks after the Frat’s founding, attracted over 2,500 fans including alumni, visitors from Lincoln who took the train to D.C. and other society dignitaries (note:  at the time, Howard’s enrollment was around 1,000).  The game alternated locations each year between Oxford, PA and Washington, D.C.  Given that, there was a consistent opportunity for students from each school to meet, socialize and get to know one another.  The game grew to such popularity that it had to be moved to larger venues, American League Park in D.C. (HU Hospital stands in that location today) and National League Park in Philadelphia, to accommodate the growing attendees.  Additionally, rail lines had special trains just to transport fans from all over to either D.C. or Philly to attend the game.  At its apex, 38,000 fans packed National League Park in Philly to see the 1923 contest.  This game was called by newsmen "the outstanding athletic and social event for Negroes in America" and "the football classic of the Negro educational world" during the 1910s & 1920s.

(the headline from the 11-30-23 Afro American)

Given the history of this game prior to 1914 and the opportunity for Alpha Chapter Bros to meet students at Lincoln, socialize with them and visit the campus, an educated conclusion could be made that this played into the selection by the Grand Conclave/Alpha Chapter to select Lincoln University as the school to establish Omega’s second Chapter, Beta.


Please note that this is only speculation as there is no written documentation or record as to the rationale for selecting Lincoln for the Fraternity’s second Chapter by the A-Chapter Bros.  But given the above, 2+2=4.

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