The importance of institutions. Above all, this was the message delivered by Bro. Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. – noted civil rights leader, attorney, and Washington power broker – during a visit to his native Atlanta as part of Eta Omega Chapter’s Achievement Week celebration. On Sunday, November 9, 2014, Bro. Jordan, along with a group of Eta Omega brothers, began the day by attending service at his childhood church, St. Paul AME.
Later that evening, at the Marriott Atlanta Airport Gateway Hotel, Bro. Jordan keynoted Eta Omega’s Achievement Week Banquet. In a ballroom that included everyone from community leaders such former Atlanta Mayor Bro. Bill Campbell; to Omega’s thirtieth, thirty-third, and current Grand Basilei (Brothers Edward Braynon, Sr., Moses C. Norman, Sr. and Antonio Knox, respectively); to the brothers and their families, Bro. Jordan held court with the crowd of 300-plus. Upon stepping to the podium, he lightheartedly prepared the audience for a lengthy speech, stating, “I brought a whole load of paper, and I’m going to say every damned word.”
The words Bro. Jordan delivered were not long-winded, but rather timely and well received. Striking tones that were reflective, humorous, and hopeful, he told stories of how the historic institutions of his hometown helped shape him. These institutions included the aforementioned St. Paul AME Church, the historically Black colleges and universities that make up the Atlanta University Center (Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse, Morris Brown and Spelman Colleges) and the Butler Street YMCA. Bro. Jordan also spoke of the influential figures of his formative years, especially his parents and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who inspired him to become active in the Civil Rights Movement. Making his gratitude for his early life in the city plain, Bro. Jordan noted: “Whatever I may have accomplished in my life … is due in large part to the institutions of Atlanta.” Bro. Jordan concluded by imploring the crowd to play an active part in ensuring these institutions’ survival for coming generations.
As Eta Omega Chapter, the first chapter of any Black Greek-Lettered Organization established in the Deep South, prepares to celebrate 95 years of existence in December 2014, we are honored and humbled to have hosted Bro. Jordan. We recognize him as an Atlanta icon, heed his call to action to support the institutions in our great city, and challenge those in our community to do the same.