Chapter History


Theta Mu Lambda Chapter was established on December 12, 1963 in Joliet Illinois to serve the needs of community residents in the South Suburban Chicago area. For nearly twenty years, Theta Mu lambda served with distinction. When its membership fell below the minimum required however, the Theta Mu Lambda Chapter was placed in an inactive status by national headquarters.

On December 2, 1986, Theta Mu Lambda Chapter was officially re-activated. The new registered location of the chapter was Calumet City, Illinois.


9/26/86 – Brother Harrison Alexander, Park Forest invited local Alpha Brothers to form a graduate Chapter in the South Suburbs. The first meeting was scheduled for 7pm Friday, October 3, 1986 at the Turning Point, Western & Exchange, University Park. Brothers Darryl R. Matthews (National Director of Marketing & Membership) and David Sparks were also named in the invitation.

10/3/86 – Brothers Present at the First Meeting:

Harrison Alexander
Melvin Brown
Arthur Byrd
Ellis Goodwin
Robert Houston
Joseph Hill
Darryl Matthews
Lawrence Poole
David Sparks
**Enthusiastic support was expressed. The mission was stated as: “to be a positive influence in the community through the development and implementation of programs through the fraternity.”

Expressed goals: (i) facilitate fellowship and rekindle the fraternal spirit of Brotherly love experienced during college days; (ii) to provide support to Brothers in their pursuit of personal and professional goals; (iii) to provide additional avenues to each member’s family in its personal and social development; (iv) to provide support and encouragement to each members children as they pursue their educational endeavors; and (v) to promote close involvement, both individually and collectively, with our respective communities for the betterment of all its citizens. During the initial interest inquiry process, it was decided by the Brothers that rather than During the initial interest inquiry process, it was decided by the Brothers that rather than establishing a new chapter, the interested Brothers should simply “re-activate” THETA MU LAMBDA CHAPTER, which had been established in Joliet. It was learned that Theta Mu Lambda Chapter, Joliet had been inactive for more than five years. Brother Darryl Matthews spearheaded this effort.

Regular monthly meetings of Theta Mu Lambda Chapter were thereafter held at Governor’s State University. By December 2, 1986, a well-organized core of Alpha Brothers were beginning to meet regularly as members of Theta Mu Lambda Chapter. Accordingly, chapter dues were established and officers were elected. This date marks the official re-activation of Theta Mu Lambda Chapter. The following Brothers were elected as the first officers of Theta Mu Lambda Chapter, University Park, Illinois:

President – Eugene Varnado
Vice President – Harrison Alexander
Secretary – Lawrence Poole
Corresponding Secretary – Robert Watkins, Jr.
Treasurer – George Reaves
Associate Editor of “The Sphinx” – Joseph Hill
Chaplain & Historian – Turhan Brown
Dir. Educational Activities – Joseph Hill
Dean of Pledges – Isaac Starks
Sergeant at Arms – Melvin Brown
Other Brothers present during this meeting: Darryl Matthews and William Taylor.

Because the meeting location at Governor’s State University was at a cost, in December 1986 the Brothers also voted to move the official meeting location to the River Oaks Clubhouse, Calumet City, Illinois, effective 1/15/87 thanks to the support of Brother Melvin Brown.

Over the next few months the Constitutional Committee met frequently to quickly write and adopt a Chapter Constitution. Members involved: Brothers George Reaves, Turhan Brown, Larry Poole and President Eugene Varnado. A “draft” Chapter Constitution was thereafter submitted to the full Chapter on 2/2/87. A Special Chapter meeting was subsequently held on 2/22/87 to discuss modifications.

3/29/87 – First “EMERGENCY MEETING” called to order. Items of business included: (1) adoption of Constitution: (2) Election of Delegates to the Midwestern Regional Convention; (3) Slate for the Election of Officers for May 1987. Only Telephone notice was provided. Brothers present: H. Alexander, M. Brown, A. Byrd, J. Hill, L. Poole, G. Reaves, J. Starks and E. Varnado. The Chapter Constitution passed and adopted unanimously. The regular Chapter Meeting was set as the “THIRD SUNDAY OF EACH MONTH AT 4:00 PM. at the River Oaks Clubhouse”.

5/17/87 – First Fundraising Committee Report delivered by Brother Hill. After “lengthy and spirited discussion” the Chapter agreed to sponsor a fundraising raffle with each Chapter Brother being responsible for 100 tickets at $1.00 per ticket. Raffle prizes included a 13″ color TV, $50 US Savings Bond, a Sony Walkman; and $25 cash. Newly elected Chapter Officers were:

President – Eugene Varnado Pr
Vice President – Harrison Alexander
Recording Sec – Lawrence Poole
Corresponding Sec. Jan F. Peters
Treasurer – George Reaves
Sgt at Arms – Melvin Brown
Historian – vacant
Parliamentarian – Andrew Lanum
Dean of Pledges – Harrison Alexander
Chaplain – Vacant
Associate Editor of “The Sphinx” – Joseph Hill
August 1987 – The Chapter Treasurer reported the Chapter funds as $1,933.36. A total of $910.00 had been collected from the raffle. Also during August 1987, Chapter Dues were raised from $50 per brother to $100 per brother.

12/20/87 – Chapter agreed to sponsor Cub Scout Pack 716, Park Forest with the assistance of Brother Oddie White; UNCF Scholarship Fund Drive; and the AKA Sorority, Park Forest Scholarship Program. Brothers also passed a motion to purchase 25 tickets to the Bulls vs. Clippers Basketball game for the Brothers at $17.00 per ticket. Chapter funds were also allocated for the Chapter Christmas Party.

12/23/87 – First Christmas Affair & Social sponsored by Theta Mu Lambda. Location: Holiday Inn Matteson. DJ, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar provided for family and friends. Also a suite was reserved for additional music and liquor.


1988-90 – Participation in and sponsorship of: Midwest Leadership Development and Citizen Institute, Marion College, Indianapolis, Indiana (eight participants); Adopt a Needy Family; Blood Drive; Health Screening Fair; College Preparatory Seminars; Scholarship Programs and Cub Scouting Activities. Annual Black & Gold Scholarship Banquet established as “Holiday Magic” Ball.

1991-95 – Theta Mu Lambda Foundation established as a separate charitable organization (two $1000 scholarship awarded). Goal: to encourage academic excellence and assist minority students in their pursuit of higher education. Participation in and sponsorship of Public Actions to Deliver Shelter (PADS) in Flossmoor; Tutorial Programs at the Jones Center, Chicago, Heights; Little League Baseball (in conjunction with Chicago Heights Park District), Summer Reading Program with University Park, Library. Additionally, Theta Mu Lambda brothers served as chaperones to the Prairie Hills Elementary School District 144 field trip to Thryl Latting Rodeo, in Chicago. Theta Mu Lambda Chapter also sponsored a drive in support of the National Bone Marrow Program.

August 1995 – THETA MU LAMBDA CHAPTER nominated by Midwestern Regional Vice President as Midwestern Regional “ALUMNI CHAPTER OF THE YEAR”.

1996-00 – Annual sponsorship of a performance of The Illinois Theatre, Park Forest during Black History Month; Alpha Bowl; Annual Golf Outing Scholarship Fundraiser, Annual Black & Gold Scholarship Dinner Dance (1999 – five $1000 scholarships awarded and two- full tuition Illinois Congressional Scholarships from Rep. Scully); American Heart Association Walk-A-Thon; Annual Health Screening during April – (Diabetes, high blood Association Walk-A-Thon; Annual Health Screening during April – (Diabetes, high blood pressure, and prostate), Sponsorship of tutorials and weekend career seminars at the Jones Center, Chicago Heights; Midwestern Leadership Conference (sponsored seven young men); Alumni Chapter allocation in support of the MLK National Memorial provided, and continuation of sponsorship of PADS. Partnership with Nu Rho Chapter.

2011 – Commissioned the Damon J. Keith exhibit at John Marshall Law School; Raised over $6,000 for March for Babies March of Dimes; Raised over $50,000 and made pilgrimmage to commemorate the unveiling of Brother Martin Luther King Jr.’s statue on the mall (NPR, ABC News)