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Fraternity pays respects to civil rights history

Carl Earles had read about the turbulent times of the civil rights movement.

He’d seen Bloody Sunday broadcast on the evening news. That was why he joined more than 400 of his fraternity brothers of Omega Psi Phi on their pilgrimage Thursday to Selma and Montgomery.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Earles said, leaving Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church.

He was a passenger on one of the seven travel cruisers that brought the Omegas from Birmingham as part of their 75th Grand Conclave, where more than 10,000 members attended the convention.

Earles has been a member of Omega since his initiation in 1941 at Wiley College. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. greeted the delegation and presented a key to the city to Grand Basileus Warren G. Lee Jr.

Attorney Faya Rose Toure and Sadie Moss, president of Delta Sigma Theta, also welcomed the group to the city. The Rev. F.D. Reese told a standing-room-only audience of the conversation he had with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. following the brutality of Sunday, March 7, 1965, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Reese joined Lee to lead the delegation across the historic Pettus Bridge after touring the National Voting Rights Museum and the Slavery Museum.

Lee said knowing history prepares them to deal with the challenges of today.

“It’s important that we don’t forget from whence we’ve come. We’re concerned about the graduation rate of our young people as we prepare them to fill the roles of leadership,” he said. “We’re going to be the men God would have us to be.”

The local chapter, Omega Chi, helped to coordinate the Alabama Civil Rights Tour. Basileus Collins Pettaway said it was their pleasure.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We’re honored the brothers would want to include Selma, which again brings positive national attention to our city,” Pettaway said.