Barbecue a family tradition

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Omega Chi chapter of Omega Psi Phi celebrated Labor Day the way it has for the last 12 years.

The fraternity held an all day get-together for members and their families at Bloch Park. They reminisced, feasted on barbecue and played cards and chess.

“We get together every Labor Day,” said Ivery Williams, who joined Omega Psi Phi at Miles College in 1980. “This is when we do family and friends.”

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The get-together is a tribute to the chapter’s founders, James Caldwell, William T. Bryant and Willie Pritchett.

“After they passed away, we started doing some things in their honor,” said Williams. “This is one of the things we do because they always wanted the fraternity to get together and do something with the families. We carried it on. “

Some of Monday’s participants were not active in the fraternity during their college days.

Wilcox Central boys basketball coach Mark Dukes joined earlier this year, four years after graduating from the University of West Alabama.

Local attorney Collins Pettaway began his initiation process at Alabama State in 1981, but a football injury prevented him from completing initiation. He became a full-fledged member by joining the Selma chapter in 2001.

Membership is open to students in college and those who have graduated.

“Our fraternity likes to highlight four cardinal principles — manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift,” said Pettaway. “We like to get together to fellowship so we can know one another and highlight and enjoy our families.

“We have a fellowship every Labor Day because we figured everybody’s supposed to be off work. We have time for each other and our families.”

Given his short time with the fraternity, Monday was the first time Dukes participated in the Labor Day get-together. Although he traded in Wilcox Central’s red and blue for the chapter’s purple and gold T-shirt, he did not mind.

“I’m proud to wear my purple and gold,” Dukes said. “It doesn’t have to be a barbecue to get me back with the brothers. I plan to be more involved or perhaps organize some games and more activities.”

The chapter is working on getting a youth mentoring and tutoring program for Selma City School students off the ground in the near future.

“We’re about community service and helping those that are in need,” said Dukes. “We’re encouraging all parents to keep an eye out for [the program].”