By: Frederick V. Roberts
The members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in Prairie View join Alphas around the world in commemorating its 116th Anniversary with a special Founders’ Day Observance Program on December 4, 2022. The speaker for the occasion is Mr. Herbert O’Neil, Superintendent of the Hempstead Independent School District . The program is open to the public and is hosted by the Epsilon Tau Lambda (Prairie View), Eta Gamma (PVAMU), Pi Omicron (TAMU) and Pi Alpha Lambda (College Station) Chapters, all members of Area IX of the Fraternity. Several members will be recognized for their services to the fraternity over the years.
O’Neil is a seasoned education leader with more than 19 years of strategic planning, organizational transformation, and education management experience for leading schools and supporting school districts. He began his career as an English teacher and coach in Waller ISD. O’Neil went on to serve as campus principal at the intermediate, middle, and high school levels, as a central office administrator in human resources, leadership and instruction in several school districts in Corsicana, Garland, Lancaster and Red Oak, the latest being an Assistant Superintendent of School Leadership in Greenville ISD.
O’Neil earned both his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and his master’s degree in educational administration from Prairie View A&M University. During and after his time at Prairie View A&M, O’Neil was a resident and active member in the Hempstead community.
A native of Hearne, O’Neil said being raised by educators inspired him to become a teacher and eventually, an educational leader. “I saw the life-changing difference a teacher could make, and I will never lose my love for being in the classroom. As superintendent, I look forward to getting to know all the educators, students and community members in Hempstead.“
One of the things that resonated with O’Neil is Hempstead ISD’s commitment to student success. “That says it all. The sense of unity and focus on a common goal of success, particularly for our young people, is inspiring,” he said. O’Neil holds membership in Alpha phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Alpha phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.
Since its founding, the fraternity has provided leadership and service during the Great Depression, World War II, Civil Rights Movements, and addressed social issues such as apartheid and urban housing, and other economic, cultural, and political issues affecting people of color. The fraternity’s mentoring, academic achievement and voter education programs and its relationships with the March of Dimes, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boy Scouts are priority-one for the fraternity. Some of its major programs include the Million Dollar Contribution to the National Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the United Negro Scholarship Fund and its lead role in the management and construction of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Washington Mall. Dr. King was one of the most revered brothers of the fraternity. Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, is the fraternity’s 36th General President. The fraternity is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.
The fraternity’s membership is lodged in more than 1,200 college and 900 alumni chapters throughout the United States, Korea, Europe and the Caribbean. Some of its prominent members are Justice Thurgood Marshall, Congressmen Emmanuel Cleaver, Al Green and Charles Rangel; former PVAMU presidents E. B. Evans, Alvin I. Thomas and Charles Hines; Mayors Lee P. Brown, David Dinkins, Andrew Young, Frank Jackson, Raymond E. Carreathers, Jiles P. Daniels, Sr., Michael Wolfe, Brian E. Rowland and Sylvester Turner, Texas Representatives Al Edwards, Boris Miles and Ronald Reynolds; Waller County Commissioners Frank D. Jackson and Kendrick Jones, musicians Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie; Activists Paul Robeson, W. E. B. DuBois; Olympian Jesse Owens, to name a few.