About 

Overview

The Eta Beta Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.—commonly referred to as the “Ole Miss Sigmas”—was chartered on the campus of the University of Mississippi on February 26, 1975 by four men: Joe Brown, Everett Brown, Michael Watts, and Jerry Everson. The organization was just the second black fraternity and fourth "Divine 9" NPHC organization on the historically white campus. In its 44-year history, the Ole Miss Sigmas have initiated 342 members.

Chapter History

When Joe Brown, Everett Brown, Michael Watts, and Jerry Everson crossed paths on the campus of the University of Mississippi in the fall of 1974, they were faced with a social climate that was neither welcoming nor hospitable for black students. It had been just over ten years since James Meredith had integrated the all-white campus, his presence inciting days of rioting and chaos: angry segregationists and broken glass; flying bullets and heavy bricks; fire, tear gas, and nearly 4,000 U.S. State Marshals and federal soldiers.

 

“The only way to get over was to get over together,” remembers Joe Brown. “When I got (to the University), I had already been instilled with this idea of unity and family. I brought those things with me.” And, unity and family were what Joe, Everett, Michael, and Jerry wanted to cultivate. They envisioned a fraternity that could share and help grow the imprint of black student organizations on campus—Omega Psi Phi Fraternity had been chartered on the campus in 1973, and both Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta had arrived earlier that year (1974)—while maintaining its own individuality and influence. Indeed, they imagined an organization that might be for and by the people; and beginning in 1974, they set forth with that vision in mind, working quickly to secure a charter for the Eta Beta Chapter just months later, on February 26, 1975.

For a full history of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. check out the NATIONAL WEBSITE.

 

In its earliest days, the Eta Beta chapter relied heavily on advising and infrastructural support from various sources within the fraternity. The national headquarters provided integral advising and oversight, and graciously granted the chapter its “Eta Beta” moniker. Members of nearby chapters of the fraternity—in particular, the Gamma Psi chapter at Rust College in Holly Springs and the Delta Phi chapter at Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena—assisted with early intake and initiation rituals. And, Dr. “Lee” Anekwa served as the chapter’s first advisor and oversaw the intake process of the “Genesis”initiate class.

 

By the end of 1975, the chapter was fully established, having initiated six additional members. During the summer, Lawrence Drummond became the first post-charter-line member. During the fall, the chapter doubled in size, as the “Esque”initiate class brought Anthony Dean, George Hilliard, Jerry Boyd, Frederick Nichols, and Rodney Jones into the membership fold.

 

For a full, chronological list of our chapter membership, check out our LINEAGE.

 

“We looked for brothers that were going to represent Sigma well. We wanted to select men who we wouldn’t mind calling a brother,” Joe Brown, the chapter’s first president, explains. 

 

1980's - GROWTH, EXPANSION, AND THE SIGMA HOUSE

The 1980’s were a time of tremendous growth and expansion for the chapter. In 1986, Randly Woods became the chapter’s 100th member. Woods was a member of the “Midas Touch”initiate class, joining the fraternity with Cotrell Barber, Edward Johnson, Benny Claiborne, and Gabriel Dear.

 

In 1988, with approval from the state College Board, the chapter secured a lease for a house on the University’s Fraternity Row. As the fall move-in date approached, local press and University officials touted what was to be another mark of racial progress for the University. Until then, Fraternity Row had been the exclusive domain of historically white fraternities, campus chapters with membership in the hundreds and alumni networks spanning decades. In that way, the impending presence of the Ole Miss Sigmas was to be a historic moment. Anticipation quickly turned to dismay and disappointment, if not surprise, however, as on the morning of August 4, 1988, just weeks before move-in, the wood-frame house was completely gutted by fire.

 

“For all practical purposes, it’s a total loss,” remarked deputy state Fire Marshalls Charlie Burns and Mike Ivy. In the following days and weeks, officials found an “accelerant” in an upstairs closet and ultimately named arson as the cause of the fire. No one was ever arrested.

 

In the months following the arson, fraternity membership, local organizations, and campus officials led a fundraising campaign, and by October, chapter leadership had secured a second lease (through the university) for a vacant Fraternity Row house.

 

On October 13, chapter members moved into the newly renovated Phi Beta Sigma House, making it the first Black Greek Letter Organization with a house on the campus, and the first Black fraternal organization with a house on Fraternity Row. Not long after moving into the house, the chapter secured a loan for its full purchase.

 

1990's - MORE GROWTH AND INCREASING MEMBERSHIP DIVERSITY

The 1990’s were a time of continued growth and diversity in the chapter. Alvin Haynes—a member of the Fall 1989 “Too Live Crew”initiate class—represented Barbados in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games (Men’s Triple Jump). Alundis Brice and Michael Lowery, both of the Spring 1993 “All-4-One” initiate class; Derek Jones, of the Spring 1994 “Icestorm 94”initiate class; and Paul Winfield, of the Fall 1994 “Cold Blue”initiate class, were standout student athletes (Ole Miss Football). Brice went on to win two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, and Lowery played for the Chicago Bears. Jones is a coach for the Duke University varsity football team. Markeeva Morgan of the Spring 1999 “Bigger and Better Blue” initiate class, and Perry Hawkins, of the Spring 1990 "Blue Phi"initiate class, earned University of Mississippi Hall of Fame Honors.

 

2000's - DEMOLITION, TRANSITIONS, AND SUSPENSION

If the 1970’s were the chapter’s originary years, the 1980’s a time of early growth, and the 1990’s still more growth, expansion, and diversity; the 2000’s brought about sweeping transitions. Augie Lewis, of the Spring 2000 “Y-Blu-K, Da Hard Way” initiate class was the chapter’s 200th member. In 2005, the Sigma House was irreparably damaged by an uprooted tree, forcing the chapter to move residency and operations to the sorority house of their "sister" organization, the Tau Eta Chapter of Zeta Beta Sorority, Inc. During that time, the Ole Miss Zeta’s had been suspended from campus pending allegations of hazing.

 

With the house in ruins, and after an extensive back-and-forth with the University about a policy change that left the house uninsured, chapter leadership turned their attention to paying off the remaining years on the loan that had helped secure purchase of the house, with longer-term plans of addressing the damages pushed temporarily to the back burner. Those plans would never materialize. In 2010, the house was demolished. 

2010's - RESURGENCE AND NEW HEIGHTS

The chapter still owns the lease to the plot of land on Fraternity row, which now sits vacant.

 

In 2010, the chapter faced another, more challenging, transition: a two-year suspension from campus related to hazing allegations. At the time of the suspension, the chapter was the largest it had ever been, with 23 active campus members. When the suspension was removed in 2013, membership had dwindled to three. In 2013, the 9-member “The Resurrection of BLU” initiate class revitalized the chapter on campus.

 

By 2015, the chapter was thriving again. Frederick Mickens, of the Spring 2015 “The Blu P.R.I.N.T.” initiate class, was the chapter’s 300th member, and by 2016, the chapter was gaining recognition both on campus and within the national organization for its service work and membership track record; the step team was winning shows across the state; and membership again approached record numbers. In 2017, Eta Beta introduced the largest initiate class in its 42-year history: “The 12 D.E.S.C.I.P.L.E.Σ. of a BLU Apocalypse.”

In 2017, the chapter mourned the loss of longtime advisor Robbie “Chique” Buford. Bro. Buford had served as advisor through the 2000’s. That same year, Bro. Dr. Brian Foster, a member of the spring 2009 initiate class, became the chapter’s Alumni advisor, joining Bro. Dr. Ryan Upshaw, who had been advising the chapter since 2014. Under their leadership, the chapter saw unprecedented success and recognition both on campus and from the National Organization: between 2016 and 2020, the chapter won more than 25 awards (from the university community and national organization), including the two highest honors that the University of Mississippi awards to Greek organizations: the Chancellor’s Cup (2019) and the Rose Flenorl NPHC Chapter Excellence Award (2018). In addition, Bro. Cellas Hayes (Sp’ 16) was named Greek Man of the Year in 2019, the highest individual award for a member of the university’s Greek community. That same year, Bro. Carl Tart (Sp’ 2019) was named the university’s first Homecoming King.

The step team also got back to its winning ways: winning first place in the Ole Miss homecoming step show in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; and in three off-campus step competitions. Boosted by this success, in 2019, the chapter was featured in both a documentary —Road to Step—and original song, both produced by Memphis artist and filmmaker Zaire Love.

As chapter successes multiplied, chapter membership grew. In 2017, Eta Beta introduced the largest initiate class in its 42-year history: “The 12 D.E.S.C.I.P.L.E.Σ. of a BLU Apocalypse.” In 2019, the chapter introduced two new initiate classes: “9 KnightΣ of a Blue Era” in the spring and “The 4 ΣinnerΣ of a Final Dynasty” in the fall.

Today, the chapter continues to be known for transformative service and outreach work, complex and creative step show performances, and innovative approaches to marketing and branding. They are known as the “Ole Miss Sigmas.” They claim “We the Frat.” Their cause speeds on its way.

National Organization
Founded

1914

Principles

Brotherhood, Scholarship,

Service

Motto

Culture for Service, Service for Humanity

Resume
2019-2020

Emerging Leader

Bro. Nicholas Sisk

University of Mississippi

Unsung Hero

Bro. Angelo Peters

University of Mississippi

Faculty Person of the Year

Bro. Brian Foster

University of Mississippi

Chapter President of the Year

Bro. Viviek Patel

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

Collegiate Brother of the Year

Bro. Carl Tart

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

Highest Chapter Membership

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

2018-2019

Chancellor's Cup

University of Mississippi

Greek Man of the Year

Bro. Cellas Hayes

University of Mississippi

Chapter Advisor of the Year

Bro. Dr. Ryan Upshaw

University of Mississippi

Most Outstanding Community Servant

Bro. Ja'Maal Luckett

University of Mississippi

Emerging Leader Award

Bro. Brian Hicks

University of Mississippi

Model Chapter

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

Most Improved

Undergraduate Chapter 

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

Superior Bigger and Better Business Programming 

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

2nd Place Oratorical Contest

Bro. Brian Hicks

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

1st Place Stepshow 

University of Mississippi Homecoming

2017-2018

Rose Flenorl NPHC Chapter Excellence Award

University of Mississippi

Trailblazer Award

Bro. LaMario Moore

University of Mississippi

Emerging Leader Award

Br. Leonard Swilley, Jr. 

University of Mississippi

Faculty Member of the Year

Bro. Dr. Brian Foster

University of Mississippi

Advisor of the Year

Bro. Dr. Brian Foster

Phi Beta Sigma, State of Mississippi

1st Place Stepshow

Lemoyne Owen College Homecoming

2016-2017

Civic Engagement Award

University of Mississippi

Emerging Leader Award

Bro. Kary Ellington, Jr.

University of Mississippi

Advisor of the Year

Bro. Dr. Ryan Upshaw

University of Mississippi

Advisor of the Year

Bro. Dr. Ryan Upshaw

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

Best Collegiate Website

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

Collegiate Brother of the Year

Bro. Ciante Barber

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

National Scholarship

Bro. Kendarius McGruder

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. 

1st Place Stepshow

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, State of Mississippi

2015-2016

Chancellor's Cup

University of Mississippi

P.O. Box 2594 Oxford, MS 38655        Email | ContactOleMissSigmas@gmail.com

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