Sigma Iota Chapter
“The Kingpin Ques”
Salute to Eight “Thoroughly Immersed” and Distinguished Brothers
Sigma Iota Chapter salutes Eight “Thoroughly Immersed” and Distinguished Brothers who made significant contributions to the Chapter, the Fraternity, and the Community: Bro. George Carroll, Bro. Percy H. Steele, Jr., Bro. Marcus A. Foster, Bro. James E. Stratten, Bro. Aramis Fouche, Bro. Rodney Reed, Bro. James E. Blackwell, and Bro. Vernon W. Jackson.
Bro. Carroll was born January 6, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York. He was Richmond, California’s first black mayor in 1964 and Contra Costa County’s first black judge the following year. Two landmarks in the city are named after Bro. Carroll. The Judge George D. Carroll Courthouse was named after him in 2009 and a park in the Point Richmond District was named in his honor.
After he graduated from Brooklyn Law School, he worked at the District Attorney’s Office in Kings County, New York, for five years before moving to a private practice. The former mayor came from humble beginnings. His father was a truck driver and his mother cleaned homes until she died when he was 5 years old. Bro. Carroll, an Army veteran, serving in the 92nd Division during WWII, relocated to Berkeley in 1952, then Richmond in 1954 where he opened his private practice and became the first black attorney in Richmond. Bro. Carroll quickly became an active community member. He ran an unsuccessful race for City Council in 1959 before winning a seat in 1961 and served a four-year term. He was appointed mayor from July 1964 to May 1965.
Bro. Carroll switched gears from lawyer to judge in 1965 when then-Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, appointed him to the Contra Costa Municipal Court. Bro. Carroll was elected and re-elected in 1970, 1976 and 1982. He retired from the bench in 1982. He was a life member of the NAACP, The California and the New York Bar Association. Bro. Carroll entered Omega Chapter January 14, 2016. (Contra Costa Times, January 14, 2016).
Born in 1920 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, Bro. Percy Steele was one of eight children. Bro. Steele graduated from North Carolina Central College in Durham, North Carolina, after which he attended Atlanta University, where he completed a Master’s degree. From 1945 to 1946, he was a staff member and organization secretary for the Washington, D.C. Urban League. In December 1947, Bro. Steele became the program director of the Neighborhood Housing and the Urban League Service Council director in Morristown, New Jersey. From there, he served as executive director of the Morris County, New Jersey Urban League.
Bro. Steele, however, made his greatest impact in the area of social work as executive director of the San Diego Urban League from 1953 to 1963 and the Bay Area Urban League. Coming to San Diego in the wake of a sizable migration of African American southerners to San Diego, Bro. Steele introduced a number of innovative programs to place black workers in jobs that they had been excluded from previously. Bro. Steele was regarded as one of the major civil rights leaders in San Diego, a position that he also earned during his long tenure (1964-1990) as executive director of the Bay Area Urban League. He was a committed consensus builder who worked with people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Bro. Steele was highly regarded in his profession. He was recognized for his outstanding work by the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Black Social Workers, and the Council of Executives of the National Urban League. Bro. Percy Steele, a member of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity entered Omega chapter on March 26, 2002. (Black Past, January 22, 2007).
Bro. Foster was born in Athens, Georgia, March 31, 1923, attending public schools in Philadelphia and graduating from South Philadelphia High School. His mother Alice fostered Marcus’s mastery of Standard English by highlighting its importance as the dominant syntax. He graduated from Cheyney State College in 1947 and earned the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from the University of Pennsylvania.
From 1957 to 1970 Bro. Foster taught in the Philadelphia public schools, served as principal of Dunbar Elementary School, O.V. Catto School for Boys and Gratz High School. He also served as Associate Superintendent for Community Relations. He moved to Oakland in 1970 when he was appointed Superintendent of Oakland Public Schools.
Bro. Foster was assassinated on November 6, 1973, by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. The SLA claimed they killed Foster because of his alleged support of a plan to create a student identification card system in Oakland that proponents claimed would help keep non-student drug-dealers off campus.
Bro. Foster received the prestigious Philadelphia Award in 1969, which recognizes individuals who have made positive contributions to the city of Philadelphia. After his death, several sites were named in his honor, including the athletic fields at Gratz High School in Philadelphia including the now closed Marcus Foster Indoor Pool featured in the movie Pride, and the Student Union building at Cheyney University. The School District of Philadelphia established the Marcus A. Foster Award, which is given annually to a School District administrator for noteworthy contributions in curriculum, instruction, school improvement or administration. Both the University of Pennsylvania and University of California Berkeley Graduate Schools of Education have each established the Marcus Foster Fellowship.
The Oakland portion of the state-mandated program to retrofit all schools for earthquake safety in the 1970s, during which dozens of schools were either retrofitted or demolished and rebuilt, was named the Marcus Foster Earthquake Safe program.
The Oakland Education Institute was founded by Bro. Foster in 1973 to raise discretionary funds to promote excellence in Oakland schools, through the collaborative efforts of Oakland’s diverse communities. After his death, the Institute was renamed the Marcus A. Foster Education Institute in honor of Bro. Foster. In conjunction with Oakland-area businesses, the Institute awards 60 yearly scholarships ranging from $1000 to $2000 to Oakland high school students. Over 1,500 students have received these scholarships. The Fund also regularly awards up to $2000 to Oakland public school teachers who develop innovative educational projects. (Wikipedia.org).
Bro. Stratten was born November 20, 1912 in Cedartown, Ga., and attended Talladega College in Alabama, where he lettered in five sports and received a bachelor’s degree in 1936. He received a master’s degree from Columbia University and played professional football for the New York Brown Bombers and the New York Hawks.
Bro. Stratten served for many years as executive director of San Francisco’s Booker T. Washington Community Center, was also active in Republican politics and served on numerous state and federal commissions. He was a pioneer in a number of areas. In 1947 he became the first black person named to a grand jury in California. In 1961, Mayor George Christopher appointed him to the school board. He was reappointed in 1963 and became the board’s first black president a year later. One of his hobbies was golf; he was an avid player with a low handicap, but in 1957 was refused membership in the Harding Park Golf Club because of his race. He and six other blacks were only admitted to the club on the insistence of the city’s Recreation and Park Commission.
During World War II, Bro. Stratten was an executive for the USO. In 1942 he moved to San Francisco where he began a long career of community activism. He was director of the Booker T. Washington Center for more than 20 years. He was also a member of the city’s Redevelopment Agency commission. Bro. Stratten served on the California Youth Authority, the state Advisory Commission for Children and Youth and the California Education Commission. He was also a member of the state Republican Central Committee. He had a key role in state Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty’s campaign against Wilson Riles in 1970. Bro. Stratten entered Omega Chapter March 30, 1996. (S. F. Gate, April 5, 1996).
Bro. Fouche was born January 17, 1904 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and entered Omega Chapter, December 1, 2001 in Berkeley, CA. Bro. Fouche graduated from Pasadena High School in California and was the featured soloist for the commencement exercise held at the Rose Bowl. He was a graduate of The University of California, Santa Barbara and California College of Embalming. He managed and was lead singer with the Dixie Jubilee Quartet. They toured the west and appeared in several movies including, “Green Pastures” and “Cabin in the Sky”.
Bro. Fouche began his career in the Mortuary Business with Angelus Funeral Home in Los Angeles. When established in 1915 by Hudson and Butler, Hudson’s was the second oldest Black funeral home in California. And in 2001, Fouche’s Hudson Funeral Home was the oldest. He served the Oakland Community as owner of Fouche’s Hudson Funeral Home since 1943. Bro. Fouche was Co-Founder and chairman of the Board of Trans Bay Federal Savings and Loan of San Francisco and First National Bank of Oakland. These financial institutions provided financial assistance to the Black community.
As a Civil Rights Leader, his lobby at the nation’s capital initiated the erasure of the “Whites Only” clause on land deeds in California. The resulting effect on the Black community from these endeavors was economic power and freedom to purchase land in previously restricted areas. Many business and churches attribute their existence to Bro. Fouche. Bro. Fouche actively supported his mortuary profession. Bro. Fouche organized and became the first president of the California Morticians Association. He maintained membership on the national, state and local levels. He held membership in numerous organizations including the NAACP, life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Good Hope Lodge #29, Victoria Consistory #25, Order of the Eastern star Menelik Temple, Queen Ester Lodge, Oakland chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau. He was founder of Men of Tomorrow, a business organization. He was 33rd degree Mason.
Bro. Fouche was recognized and received many awards by various professional, civic, church and fraternal organizations. These included: the Certificate of Achievement from President Ronald Reagan for 20 years of service to the Nation, he was appointed to the commission of Oakland Library Advisory board, Administrative Assistant to the Boy Scouts of America, Alameda county; Outstanding Services to Education Award. He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Mortuary Administration, Bethol Institute. (legacy.com).
Brother Rodney Reed was born on May 16, 1932 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Ursul and Edgar Reed. He received his B.A. degree from Clark College in 1951, and his M.Mus. degree in music education from the University of Michigan in 1956.
Upon graduation, he accepted a position at Southern University as an assistant professor of music and associate conductor of University bands. In 1961, Bro. Reed moved to Oakland, California, where he served as a junior high school music teacher and department head and principal of the summer music recreation program in the Oakland Unified School District before becoming Vice Principal of King Junior High School.
Bro. Reed graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970 with his Ph.D. degree in educational policy, planning, and administration. He then joined the faculty of the University’s Graduate School of Education, becoming only the second tenure track professorial appointment in the school’s history at that time, and ascended the ranks to become a full professor. In 1973, Bro. Reed was appointed as assistant research educator, Program in International Education Finance, during which time he conducted studies in Liberia, West Africa. In 1976, he was appointed as chair of the division of education administration in the school of education, and in 1989, was elected for a three year term as chair of the university’s Graduate School of Education faculty.
While at Berkeley, Bro. Reed served on two Academic Senate Committees; was a co-founder of the University’s Professional Development Program; was an initial member of the Board of Directors of the Young Musicians Program; co-director of the University of California/Oakland Unified School District Teacher Corps Project; and founded the University’s Annual Institute for School Administrators.
In January, 1990, he assumed the position of Pennsylvania Professor of Education and Dean of The College of Education at Pennsylvania State University and became that University’s first black senior academic administrator. While at Penn State, he was elected to serve a two-year term as chair of the academic council of deans. In 1994 he officially resigned from the University of California, Berkeley and was named professor emeritus. In 1998 he retired as dean of Penn State and was awarded the title of dean and professor emeritus, College of education.
Bro. Reed has published numerous articles examining the education system in America and has served on the editorial boards of a number scholarly journals. From 1991 to 1994 he was host of the television program, Touching the Future. He served in leadership positions in the American Educational Research Association, the board of directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the San Francisco-Bay Area Urban League, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Governor’s “Pennsylvania 2000” board to chart the future of education in that state.
Bro. Reed has received many awards including resolutions from the California Assembly and the California Senate, the State of California Speaker of the Assembly Willie J. Brown Jr. plaque for his service to the educational system of California, and the 1992 Alumnus of the Year Award from the Black Alumni club of the California Alumni Association. In addition, The Rodney J. and Vernell A. Reed scholarship in urban education has been established in the Pennsylvania State University College of Education. (The HistoryMakers March 8, 2011). Bro. Reed is a dedicated son of Omega and served as Basileus of Sigma Iota Chapter 1964-65.
Bro. Blackwell was born March 4, 1926, in Anniston, Alabama. Bro. Blackwell is cited in the 1964 Chapter Report by Sigma Iota Basileus Rodney Reed as being the 1st Vice District Representative. He very well could have become the DR if he had not left to be the deputy director of the Peace Corp in Tanganyika. Bro. Blackwell was a leading scholar in the areas of minorities in higher education and social movement in black communities. A 1986 study reported in Social Forces ranked him No. 5 among “black sociologists – (living or dead) who made the most significant contribution in the field.” He has written a number of books, including “The Black Community: Diversity and Unity,” which has gone through number of revisions. He also has been a consultant for the Today Show, major television networks and newspapers, and has testified as an expert witness in anti-segregation court cases.
After completing a bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree in sociology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Bro. Blackwell was among nearly a dozen black graduate students in sociology recruited to WSU in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s to complete their doctorates. That group included Charles Ullman Smith, Anna Harvin Grant, Blackwell and William Julius Wilson, recipient of the Regents Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1988.
Bro. Blackwell’s career grew at Benedict College, Columbia, SC, instructor in biology, 1949-51; Shorter College, Rome, GA, instructor in biology, 1951-52; Grambling College (now Grambling State University), Grambling, LA, assistant professor of social science and biology, 1952-55; San Jose State College (now San Jose State University), San Jose, CA, 1959-63, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of sociology. After earning his doctorate, Bro. Blackwell became president of the San Jose, Calif., chapter of the NAACP, 1962-63; directed Peace Corps operations in Africa and training in Milwaukee, 1963-66; and worked the U.S. Agency for International Development in Tanzania, Malawi and Nepal, 1966-69, before joining the University of Massachusetts.
After spending nearly 20 years at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, where he chaired the department of sociology, Bro. Blackwell retired as professor emeritus in 1989. At that time, he received the UM’s Chancellor’s Medal. And, the Blackwell Fellowship was established in his name to benefit graduate students in sociology whose work focuses on issues of minority group relations, racial equality and Third World Development. He was the first President of the Association of Black Sociologists. (1980).
His memberships and awards include: American Sociological Association (member of council, 1970-71), Society for the Study of Social Problems (national executive secretary, 1962-63; president, 1980-81), Sociological Research Association, Caucus for Black Sociologists (president, 1970-72), African Studies Association, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP; president of San Jose chapter, 1962-63), Eastern Sociological Association (president, 1981-82), Massachusetts Sociological Society, Alpha Kappa Delta (president of Beta of Washington chapter, 1956-57), Omega Psi Phi, Sigma Rho Sigma, Blue Key, Urban League. Danforth associate, 1974; American Sociological Association, Spivak Award, 1979, and DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award, 1986; Benjamin E. Mays Award for Distinguished Scholarship, Metropolitan Boston Young Men’s Christian Association, 1987. Bro. Blackwell entered Omega Chapter, January 16, 2020. (Amistad.research center.tulane.edu).
Bro. Jackson was born July 31, 1909 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and passed to Omega Chapter April 24 1979. He was a funeral director and embalmer. Owner of Jackson Funeral Homes at 1904 Adeline Street and 8901 E. 14th Street, Oakland, California. A graduate of Williams Institute of Mortuary Science and the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. Member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, 3 lifetime memberships in the NAACP, a 33rd degree Prince Hall Scottish Rite Mason, member American Legion, VFW, board member of Oakland YMCA, past president and co-founder of Federal Savings and Loan of Oakland, and active member of National Funeral Directors and Morticians Assn., California State Morticians Assn., several social clubs, and active member of Oakland’s First AME Church, serving as Trustee.
Bro. Jackson was very passionate about financially supporting organizations that enhanced the members of our community. He was a significant supporter of Sigma Iota’s Scholarship Program throughout the years. (legacy.com)
484 Lake Park Avenue, Unit #3
Oakland, CA 94610