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Remembering Robert Harold Ogle, First African American Known To Serve As A Professional Senate Committee Staffer

Remembering Robert Harold Ogle First African American Known To Serve As A Professional Senate Committee Staffer

 

 

Robert Harold Ogle (born April 3, 1886) was the first African American to serve as a professional Senate committee staffer and a founder (Jewel) of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. (the oldest existing African American fraternity). Ogle attended M Street School after being born in Washington, D.C. to Jeremiah and Mary Ellen Ogle. M Street School was one of the top preparatory schools for African Americans at the time, and admission was extremely competitive. Ogle was able to secure one of the available spots, and upon graduation in 1905, he enrolled at Cornell University.

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He studied agriculture and business administration at Cornell. He met Charles C. Poindexter, a graduate student in the College of Agriculture, while there. Poindexter created a social studies group that met at his house at first. He invited Ogle to join the club. The organization began as a support system for students of African descent and has since extended to encompass community outreach in the Ithaca, New York, area.

During his Christmas vacation, Ogle read an article in the Chicago Defender (an African American newspaper) about the formation of the Pi Gamma Omicron Fraternity at Ohio State University. He informed the other members of his fraternity, but because the fraternity was quickly disbanded, information was unavailable. Many members, including Ogle, expressed a desire to transition from club to fraternity by the fall of 1906.

After much deliberation, the decision and vote to establish Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity as a fraternal organization took place in December 1906. Ogle was an important figure and the organization’s first secretary. He proposed the colors, assisted with the first ritual, and contributed to the overall objective of the new fraternity. He was also a driving force towards chapter expansion. In 1907, Ogle proposed establishing Beta Chapter (the second chapter) at Howard University, thereby extending the fraternity’s influence across the country.

After graduating in 1909, Ogle returned to Washington, D.C., where he first worked as a clerk for judges. Later, he was assigned to Sen. Francis E. Warren of Wyoming on the United States Senate Appropriations Committee. Ogle’s job title was initially “laborer,” then “messenger,” and finally “additional clerk.” Regardless of how he was classified, his appointment as a professional Senate committee staffer is a first for an African-American.

Ogle married twice: first to Helen (Moore) Ogle and then, after her death, to Marea (Scott) Ogle. With his first marriage, he had two daughters: Helen Ogle (Atkins) and Mary Ogle (Wilson). Ogle was a lifetime Washington, D.C. citizen who served his family, community, and fraternity. Olga and fellow founder (Jewel) Nathaniel Allison Murray were members of Mu Lambda Chapter (an alumni chapter) in the Washington, D.C. region. At the time of his death on December 3, 1936 (one day before the 30th anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.), the fraternity had over 100 chapters across the country.

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Written by How Africa News

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