Purple, white and silver filled Tallahassee Community College’s Student Union Banquet Hall as the Tallahassee Chapter of Omega Lamplighters celebrated its annual Scholarship & Recognition Banquet April 25.
A crowd of 300 people consisting of friends and family members gathered in unison to celebrate the youth group’s transition to manhood. In addition, prominent Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin L. Crump Esq. was also in attendance at the banquet.
Guest Speaker Fred D. Gray, Jr. Esq. gave remarks at the event. “The work that the chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated are doing with these young men is exemplary. This is something that should be modeled, I think, throughout the state and country,” Gray said.
The banquet helps raise money for scholarships for students in the Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla County areas.
“It turned out very well. This is the second year where we had more people than anticipated and that’s a blessing,” said Royle King, Omega Lamplighter Executive Director. “A lot of times I’m so engaged in it that I don’t realize how deep or how big the impact is because I’m living it. I’m just steady working, trying to see them [Omega Lamplighters] get better.”
Since 2011, the Tallahassee chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated have provided scholarships to young men through the OLL program. The event, which is in its fourth year of existence, celebrates young minority males between the ages of 12 to 18. In recent years, the OLL program’s popularity has been increasingly growing.
The OLL scholarship program is indicative of a community need of more youth programs and Eugenia Nesmith, mother of OLL Inductee Pvt. Lloyd Braxton, Jr., is grateful for the program.
“When he was in 9th grade he would get into trouble. He was skipping school, fighting, smoking weed … if you can name it he was doing it,” said Nesmith. “When he got with the group [OLL], he turned around. He shocked me! He’s a whole new child. On his 17th birthday, he even volunteered joined the National Guard.”
Some of the awards presented were in Leadership, Maturity, Perseverance, Parent’s Award, Academic Scholar of the Year and Omega Lamplighter of the Year.
Braxton, Jr., the 2015 OLL Leadership award winner, acknowledges that if it were not for the Omega Lamplighter’s program, his future would be uncertain.
“I was the negative stereotype that America has for young black men,” Braxton Jr. said. “If it wasn’t for the program, I’d be deceased or in a federal prison.”
However, the demand to join the program is so high that kids may be turned away unless more volunteers and financial resources are added to the program, said King. “We may have to turn away some kids this summer.”
For more information about the local chapter, email Lamplighters850@gmail.com or call 214-364-2921.