This is Alpha Chapter #24 - 4-5-15

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An HU Story:  the Origin of the Omega-Delta Connection

For years, I’ve heard about the “Coleman Love” connection as being the origin of the Frat’s relationship with the Deltas.  You’ve heard it:  that Frank Coleman married Mary Edna Brown and Edgar Love dated Edith Young both founders of Delta Sigma Theta.  But the bonds go deeper than that.


Before that’s explored, let’s clear up one minor misnomer.  Yes, Frank Coleman did marry Mary Edna Brown.  That was his first wife.  However, they did not marry until May 1918, a full five years after DST was founded and they both graduated from Howard (1913).  When Coleman graduated, he taught for a year at the Brick Institute in Enfield, NC.  In 1914, Coleman returned to DC to teach at Armstrong Technical High School for a year before joining the academic staff at Howard Academy, HU’s high school, in 1915.  After graduating valedictorian of her class, Brown enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio where she received her Master of Arts in 1914.  Afterward, she returned to DC where she became an instructor at Howard Academy.  While certainly they were friends during their undergrad years, it is safe to say that their romantic relationship developed while they were both on the teaching staff of Howard Academy (courtship back then didn’t take 5 years).  In 1917, Bro. Coleman enlisted in the army and went to fight in France during WWI returning in 1918.  It is then he married Brown on May 25, 1918 and moved from teaching at the Academy to HU (Brown continued to teach at the Academy until it closed in 1919).  Unfortunately, tragedy struck the marriage as Brown died on September 25, 1919 from apparent complications during childbirth (the infant died the previous day).  Coleman married again in 1926 to Mabel Raymond to whom he was with until his death in 1967.

The extent of the Omega/Delta relationship goes much further than Coleman and Love.  The Founders, several of the Bros who were on the Charter Line and initiated in 1912 and 1913 were part of the graduating Class of 1913.  But let’s narrow the focus a bit.  All three of our Founders were in the College of Arts & Sciences at Howard and part of the Class of 1913.  Back in the day, there weren’t a lot of folks at HU so everyone knew everyone in their particular school and, specifically, graduating class since they took many of the same classes together.  In total, 35 students graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1913.  This is why, in part, our Founders were so close: they entered Howard at the same time, were students in the same College, took many of the same foundation classes together and graduated at the same time.  Of the 35 individuals who graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences at Howard, 15 were either Bros or Deltas!  Specifically:

Omega/Delta graduates, HU College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 1913

The Bros

The Deltas (listed by their maiden name)

Edgar A. Love (Founder)

Mary Edna Brown

Oscar J. Cooper (Founder)

Ethel Carr

Frank Coleman (Founder)

Florence Letcher

Charles Young Harris (Charter Line)

Olive Jones

Frank H. Wimberly (Charter Line)

Osceola McCarthy

Benjamin Jones (Charter Line)

Mamie Reddy

Charles Osceola Lewis (Charter Line)

Marguerite Young

James Raymond Johnson (Alpha 1912)

 

 

All of the above Deltas are founders of their sorority.  Additionally 3 other Bros (Arthur Grant, William Jason & John Purnell) and 5 other Delta Founders (Myra Davis, Jessie McGuire, Edith Mott, Jimmie Bugg and Bertha Pitts) were part of the Class of 1913 from other schools at Howard. 

Now remember, these ladies were AKAs initially.  So the bond initially established may have possibly been with AKA!  However, speculation leads that there was a closeness between the two organizations given the aforementioned dynamics, the formative stage of the Frat at the time and the transition the ladies were experiencing leaving an established sorority to a neophyte sisterhood during their senior year (note: the Sigmas were founded in 1914 and both the Nupes and Zetas didn’t appear on HU’s campus until 1920).

This leads to a historic find.  Below is a picture from the January 5, 1935 issue of the Baltimore Afro American of members of the HU Class of 1913 (click here for larger image).  This was taken at the November 1934 Howard v. Lincoln football game (that was the "Homecoming" game back in the day before homecoming was established).  This historic picture includes our three founders, two other Bros (one from the Charter line and another initiated in 1912) and four of the founders of Delta Sigma Theta.


The picture was taken by famed photographer Addison Scurlock, who was Howard's official photographer.  As a side note, Marguerite Young, one of the Delta founders pictured, was married Dr. Waldo Alexander, Alpha Chapter 1915, in 1918.

This bond continued in years to come.  Discovered in Mabel Coleman’s possessions donated to the Frat, was another reunion photo (see below; click here for larger image).  This gathering occurred during the 1940s.  Unfortunately, since names weren’t provided, only four Brothers (Cooper, Coleman, Love and James Johnson) and three Deltas (Young, McCarthy and Middleton) can be identified with certainty.


Clearly, an established bond existed between the Bros and the Deltas through their friendship as classmates during their years at Howard.  This is the true origin of the Omega/Delta relationship.

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