The Pilgrimage: Phi Beta Sigma Celebration of Charles I. Brown

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Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (PBS), one of the nine predominantly African-American Greek-Lettered organizations, is an international association comprised of college and professional men. Founded January 9, 1914 on the campus of Howard University by three noble Founders, Abram Langston Taylor, Leonard Francis Morse, and Charles Ignatius Brown, the Fraternity has evolved to amass 175,000 alumni and collegiate members, located in more than 650 chapters throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Two of PBS Founders, Taylor and Morse, went on to live very productive and notable lives, and were very active in the growth of the Fraternity until their deaths in 1953 and 1961, respectively. The third Founder, Charles I. Brown, as history is taught, disappeared from all aspects of society around 1924. It was the hope of every Sigma Man, that Founder Brown went on to live a productive and fruitful life – but the story of his disappearance, along with the rumors of what may have happened, continued in the organization for over 80 years.

In 1999, a small group of history-minded Sigma Brothers sat down and formulated a plan to locate Founder Brown. Assuming he had indeed passed away by this time, their efforts were concentrated around finding proof and evidence of what happened to him, and hopefully finding when and where he finally died. Led by the Fraternity’s international historian, professional archivists, historians, and genealogists were employed to assist in this massive project. This group has spent the better part of the last 17 years following every lead, travelling the country, and combing through numerous archives and databases.PBS-Church service

PBS-Church service1Over these years, many frustrating obstacles and dead ends were encountered, but it was completely unacceptable that a Founder of the beloved Fraternity just disappeared from the planet. The search had to go on. The story had to be told. There had to be an end to the mystery of the Charles I. Brown disappearance. In the year 2015, the breakthrough occurred. With the small group of Sigma Brothers who started the search at the grass-roots level, along with the professionals that aided the movement, and with the full support of the Fraternity . . . Founder Charles Ignatius Brown was FOUND!

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On January 6 -8, 2017, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity leaders and members, along with the national leaders from around the globe, CIB laying to restmade “The Pilgrimage” to The Charles I. Brown Celebration in Philadelphia, PA during the Founders Weekend. The search is over; the mystery of their “missing founder” has been solved. I had the distinct honor to witness the three-day celebration to commemorate the historic occasion in all of greekdom. It started with a Celebratory Mass on the Life of Honorable Charles I. Brown at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul said to be the childhood place of worship for the founder. Despite the bitter cold and heavy snow, the journey continued as they paid their respects at the outdoor Omega Ceremony and Monument Unveiling at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, PA. These noble Sigma men pushed forward to perform the last part of the “Pilgrimage”. They placed the Historical Marker and Plaque during the dedication ceremony at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church as a final and lasting token of love and admiration.

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It was an awe-inspiring moment for me to see over 1,000 honorable Phi Beta Sigma gentlemen gather in brotherhood to reconnect, restore, and remember a key part of their historical beginnings. #CIBPILGRIMAGE2017

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Historical Summary & Article Courtesy

Photos courtesy: Celestial Visions & Devon Patillo Photography


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