The Mighty Tau Tau Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was established on February 3rd, 1961 in Compton, California; the third chapter chartered in the Los Angeles area. The induction of officers took place at Rand’s Round Up Restaurant in Los Angeles on February 17, 1961 at an informal banquet presented by members of the new chapter. Active in the festivities on behalf of the chapter were Brothers Jason Cowan, Roland Powell, Sylvester Ward, and Elbert O. Robinson. Brothers Cowan and Powell served as chapter master of ceremonies introduced all Brothers attending. Brother Roland Powell along with Brothers Sylvester Ward, Waldo Phillips and Jason Cowan were the prime movers in launching the new chapter.
The Founding Chapter Officers were:
Other charter members of Tau Tau chapter included Dr. Lee Bass, Johnson E. Maner, Waldo B. Phillips, and John Dillard.
The early years for Tau Tau were busy and eventful. In 1961, following chapter presentation and installation, the chapter sponsored an affair called, “Le Vue in Rhapsody” at Fort McArthur Officers’ Club in May. The chapter’s first Achievement Week program was held at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Compton with Brother Jason Cowan as principal speaker. The formal dance was held in December.
1962 saw the chapter co-sponsor a boat ride to Catalina Island with the Exceptional Children’s Opportunity School. This activity was the outstanding social event of the summer in Los Angeles. The chapter’s first annual family picnic was held in August 1962. During this time the Los Angeles area chapters collectively hosted the annual Mardi Gras. A common event throughout the fraternity.
Brother Basileus Sylvester Ward represented Tau Tau at the 1961 conclave in Washington and Brother James Evans was elected delegate to the 1962 conclave. The original chapter members were still active with the exception of Brother Roland Powell, who left to study veterinary medicine at Tuskegee Institute. Four more brothers were reclaimed, and four brothers were initiated into the fraternity on October 28th, 1961: Brothers Willie Alexander, Doctor of Pharmacy, Daniel Davis, Jr., Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Herbert Robinson, and Charles “Charlie” Banks. Meetings were rotated monthly with two brothers acting as hosts and were always highlighted with lively debate followed by real Omega fellowship.
At this time, 22 brothers made up the roster with Sylvester Ward serving as Basileus, John Snead, Vice Basileus, Huey Dredd, KRS, Thomas Gibson, KF, Elbert Robinson, Chaplain, James Stansil, Dean of Pledges, and Johnson Maner, reporter to the Oracle. Other members were Charles Banks, Lee Bass, Willie Alexander, Jason Cowan, Daniel Davis, James Evans, McKinley Exum, Homer Lewis, David Page, William Payne, William Reece, Herbert Robinson, Jabo Sandez, Sidney Purdle and Oliver Ward.
The Compton Quettes were officially established during this era with Mrs. Eula Ward, wife of then Basileus, Brother Sylvester Ward, serving as president. The Compton Quettes hosted various events in the City of Compton, most notable were the annual Christmas Party and Christmas Basket giveaway to the needy in the community.
Tau Tau Chapter’s first decade saw leadership from Brothers Sylvester Ward, John Snead, Huey Dredd, B. Winford Smith, and Charlie Banks, respectively serving as the first five Chapter Basilei.
Tau Tau Chapter’s leaders throughout 1970’s were Bros. Huey Dredd, Charlie Banks, and Marco Vallery, respectively serving as 7th, 8th, and 9th Chapter Basilei. Brother Dredd’s administration continued collaborations with the Los Angeles area chapters, combining efforts to host the Omega Starlight Formal in 1970. In 1972 Tau Tau Chapter continued its project of supplying shoes to needy children, helping them remain in school. The chapter also started awarding scholarships to high school graduates in the area.
The mid-seventies saw the leadership of Brother Charlie Banks, Tau Tau Chapter’s 5th and 8th Basileus and first brother initiated in the chapter to hold the position. Bro. Marco Vallery was the 9th and longest tenured Basileus, serving in the position from the late 1970’s to the mid-1980’s. This was a tumultuous period for the chapter as it related to membership. Many brothers left the area for better career opportunities back east. Brother Vallery single-handedly kept the chapter afloat, sometimes being the lone member at chapter meetings.
The upward momentum of the chapter to our current status began in the late 80’s under the leadership of Brother Mark Iles, past 2nd Vice Grand Basileus. Brother Iles was recruited by Brother Joe Cole Sr., past Grand Chaplain and Tau Tau Chapter KRS. Brothers Cole and Iles served together on the Supreme Council under the leadership of Brother L. Benjamin Livingston, 32nd Grand Basileus and first son of the 12th District to serve in the position. Brother Iles worked to revitalize the chapter and set it on its progressive course. During the administration of Brothers Mark Iles and Marcus A. Bedford, the chapter began regular meeting attendance. Through their leadership and vision, Tau Tau was once again represented at all 12th District Meetings, Leadership Conferences, and Grand Conclaves throughout the decade. Tau Tau continued to grow through reclamation and the Selection and Education Process. The 1980’s also saw Tau Tau’s first initiated member since 1961, Brother Dan Kurtz, initiated in 1988.
From the mid-80s through the 90s Tau Tau chapter was led by Brothers Mark Iles, Marcus Bedford, Ricky L. Lewis, Chris Tyus (Tyiska), Arthur “Bud” Coleman, Keith Parker, and Paul Turner, respectively serving as 10th through 16th Chapter Basileus. Tau Tau reached new heights under the guidance of these administrations. The nineties became a pivotal decade for the chapter, seeking to complete all mandated programs set forth by the fraternity and align itself with the directives of the 12th District and International Headquarters.
Tau Tau Chapter was selected as the chapter of year two consecutive years in a row, 1991 and 1992, respectively. During the 1992 Grand Conclave the fraternity recognized Brother Marcus A. Bedford, Sr. for his outstanding and consistent works, as the recipient of the International Superior Service Award. The chapter also received numerous Reclamation Chapter of the Year awards. Through the Membership Intake Process more brothers were brought into the chapter and the folds of Omega Dear.
Brother Ricky L. Lewis became the chapter’s first District officer, beginning in 1994 as the First Vice District Representative eventually becoming the 12th District Representative in 1996. Brother Lewis also served as District Marshal in 1990 for the first 12th District Meeting hosted by the chapter. Brother Lewis also served as Deputy Grand Marshal for the 1996 Grand Conclave held in Los Angeles.
The nineties also saw the creation of the Youth Annual Leadership Conference with Brother Ricky L. Lewis serving as its director. The Brothers of Tau Tau began to load their wagons and rolled up their sleeves with a calendar of over 27 events listed. Activities outside of the fraternity’s mandated programs included the LA Watts Summer Games, Church Visits, Meals on Wheels, Voter Registration Drives, Walk-A-Thons, Easter Carnival, Martin Luther King Day Parade and float, Blood Drives, Cultural Symposiums, Career Day, Pan African Film Festival, and Mentorship Program. The Mighty Tau Tau went on the receive Chapter of the Year honors again in the nineties: 1996, 1998.
The chapter started the new millennium as it ended the prior, under the direction of the Paul Turner, 16th Basileus and continued on under the management of Brothers Rod Bickerstaff, Todd May, Walter Hunter, and Ronan Hill, respectively serving as 17th through 20th Chapter Basileus.
The chapter continued to grow through its reclamation efforts and the Membership Selection Program. Tau Tau chapter continued the trend of the late 90’s with multiple Chapter of the Year honors, including back-to-back International Chapter of the Year in 2004 and 2005 under the leadership of Brother Todd May, 18th Basileus. In 2003, Brother Marcus Bedford was elected the 12th District First Vice District Representative. the chapter’s first Annual Black Tie Scholarship Gala providing $10,000 scholarships to inner city youth. The “Roll and Bowl” event became “Ques at the Alley” and has been one of the chapter’s most financially successful events. As a community service project, the chapter’s 2005 initiates began the tradition of providing turkeys to the needy in the community of Compton on Thanksgiving. 16 years later, the program continues feeding the underserved in Compton.
The second decade of the new millennium saw the leadership of Brothers Sean Castleberry, Kwame Dow, Ed Young, Rodney Brooks, and Charles Ezell, Jr., respectively serving as 21st through 25th Chapter Basilei. In 2017 the chapter won its third International Social Actions Chapter of the Year. Tau Tau Chapter leaders saw their talents used on the District and International levels. Brother Ronan Hill served as District KRS. Brother Raphael Irving served as District Keeper of Finance, the first brother initiated through Tau Tau chapter to hold the position. Brother Kwame Dow served as the 12th District First Vice District Representative and is now the 34th 12th District Representative. Brother Ricky L. Lewis was elected and re-elected to the position of First Vice Grand Basileus, the first chapter member ever to serve in the position. During this era, Tau Tau Chapter adopted the mission statement: “Transforming Our Communities Through Service and Mentorship”
As Tau Tau Chapter has become a recognizable name in the fraternity, we have not forgotten our roots, the Compton Community. Though the chapter’s “Compton Initiative”, we have built relationships and partnerships with community leaders of the City of Compton. In spite of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Tau Tau chapter has been at the forefront of innovative leadership. The chapter successfully hosted the first ever virtual 12th District Meeting and sponsored a water borehole to provide clean water to the Nsuta Bimma community of Ghana. The chapter also handed out over 3800 food boxes to the people of Compton via the Uplift LA Institute. Since 2014, we have provided $137,000 in scholarship money to African American male high school seniors in the Los Angeles area by way of the Annual Scholarship Gala.
Entering its 3rd decade of the new Millennium, the Mighty Tau Tau continues to commit itself to the cardinal principals of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift by seeking to reach out and build bridges with other community leaders and benevolent organizations.
The Mighty Tau Tau seeks to challenge itself and its steadfast body by raising the bar by bringing in new leaders through the Membership Selection Process and serving as the Boot Camp for leadership within the 12th District and the fraternity.
“Transforming Our Communities Through Service and Mentorship”