Hall of Fame – Bro. Dr. Moses C. Norman, Sr.

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Dr. Moses C. Norman, Sr., 33rd Grand BasileusIt seemed that Dr. Moses Conrad Norman, Sr. was destined to live a life of leadership and impact. He was born in Gray, Georgia on January 3, 1935, as the youngest of seven children born to Walter Raleigh and Rosa Lee M. Norman. He lost his father at the early age of three. Despite that early loss, the strong guidance of his grandfather, Clem Conrad Norman, his mother and siblings sustained him. From his early years, his parents placed a high value on education and did everything in their power to ensure that Dr. Norman and his siblings received the best education possible despite enormous obstacles faced by African-Americans in the south. According to his older brother Willie, when Norman was still a young boy, his grandfather would often put his hand on Norman and declare that he was going to grow up to be a professor.

An interesting story told by his older brother Willie pointed to Norman’s early penchant for education and learning. While growing up in Jones County, near Macon, the Norman family had an elderly neighbor who could not read. The man would buy a newspaper and ask one of the children to read it to him. By the time Norman was 11 or 12, he took it upon himself to teach the neighbor how to read the newspaper. He later also taught him to write his name. That was a big deal in the 1940s, when a significant part of the population was illiterate.

His academic career began at Jones County Elementary School. He would move on from there and graduate from Gray High School. The next step in his academic career resulted in his moving from Gray to Atlanta, Georgia as he matriculated into Clark College. Norman was quite active during his time at Clark. He was a member of the Male Glee Club, NAACP, the Dramatics Club and French Club, and the Panther Newspaper Staff. The date of December 10, 1954 proved to be pivotal and life changing for Norman. On that date during his sophomore year, he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. through Beta Psi Chapter. Norman impacted the Chapter during his time at Clark College. He served as the Assistant Dean of Pledges, Dean of Pledges, and Basileus. He also served as Panther Yearbook Editorial Assistant during his junior year and Co-Editor of the Panther Yearbook during his senior year. He demonstrated his broad bandwidth by also serving as President of Kappa Zeta Tau Journalism Society and Co-Chairman of the Freshman Guides during his senior year in addition to his duties as Basileus and Yearbook Editor. Norman received his Bachelor of Arts degree in the English Language and Literature with a minor in Journalism in 1957. He excelled academically during his time at Clark and was on the honor roll throughout his time there and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Upon graduation from Clark, Norman began his professional career in education with the Atlanta Public Schools in the fall of 1957 as an English teacher at Luther Judson Price High School. His involvement with Omega continued and in 1957, Norman transferred his Omega membership from Beta Psi to Eta Omega upon graduation from Clark College.
He represented Eta Omega as a Chapter delegate to the 1959 Grand Conclave in New York City. Norman became a member of the Achievement Week Committee and was in short order elected as Vice Basileus of Eta Omega Chapter in 1961. He represented Eta Omega as a delegate to the Fiftieth Golden Anniversary Grand Conclave in Washington, D.C. in 1961.

While working full time as a teacher at Atlanta Public Schools, Norman attended the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and earned his Master’s degree in English Language and Literature with a focus on linguistics in 1963.

Shortly after graduating from Clark College, Norman met a young teacher named Gertrude Clark, who would become his best friend and soul mate. On November 29, 1963, they were joined in holy matrimony at Sisters Chapel, located on the campus of Gertrude’s alma mater, Spelman College. Shortly after their marriage, the couple began a family with the birth of their first son, Moses Conrad, Jr. in 1964. Their second son, Christopher Kent, was born in 1967 and their third son, Jeffrey Brenton, was born in 1969.

During this time, Norman was elected Basileus of Eta Omega Chapter in 1966 and served in that office until 1969. In 1970, he was chosen by Grand Basileus James S. Avery as Chairman of the National Recommendations Committee. In addition to the duties as Eta Omega Chapter Basileus and the National Committee Chair, Norman also served as the Director of Public Relations for the Seventh District from 1967 to 1971. He was subsequently elected as the First Vice Seventh District Representative in 1971. He would serve in that office until 1974. While Norman was serving as First Vice Seventh District Representative, the Seventh District Representative Edward J. Braynon Jr. was elected as First Vice Grand Basileus. Norman immediately succeeded Braynon as Seventh District Representative in January of 1974. He was then elected to the first of three successive terms as Seventh District Representative in 1974 through 1977.

Shortly after completing his term as Seventh District Representative, Norman received his Doctor of Philosophy from Georgia State University in Educational Leadership and Management in 1978.

Norman’s first election to a national office in the Fraternity was in 1979, when he was elected as Grand Keeper of Records and Seal. He was reelected and served in that office until 1982. He continued his ascension in the ranks of Omega and was elected as First Vice Grand Basileus in 1982. Norman was later elected to the highest office of Omega via his election as Grand Basileus in 1984 and the Grand Conclave in Louisville, Kentucky. He would be reelected twice and serve as Grand Basileus until 1990. The length of his tenure of six years remains the longest in the history of Omega for any Grand Basileus.

During his term as Grand Basileus, Norman made numerous contributions to Omega. In 1985, he executed the official transfer of funds from the Life Membership Committee of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. to the newly formed Life Membership Foundation. His administration also issued the Life Membership pin in 1985. Project Manhood was launched nationally in 1985 as a means for Chapters to adopt and serve as mentors to boys ages 8-15.

Norman convened and presided over the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Grand Conclave in Washington, DC in 1986. He was elected to a second term at this Grand Conclave. Under his leadership, the Omega Federal Credit Union was formed and launched in 1986. The Credit Union was the first of its kind among all Black greek organizations.
He instituted the Project Chad in conjunction with the Africare Foundation. Norman also instituted the Youth Leadership Institute for junior and senior male students with the potential for attending college. In 1987 in New Orleans, Louisiana, his administration launched the Omega Leadership Conference to provide training for Omega leaders at all levels – chapter, district, and national. The Conference was to be held biennially during years between Grand Conclaves.

The first significant corporate support to underwrite the Grand Conclave was obtained from Anheuser Busch to sponsor the Tribute to Black College Presidents Luncheon at the 1988 Grand Conclave in Dallas, Texas. During Norman’s administration the Omega Oversight Review Committee was established to conduct a periodic internal audit of the operations of the Fraternity. In recognition of the international expansion of the Fraternity, Norman convened the Supreme Council for a meeting in Heidelberg, Germany, in December of 1988. During that visit, the Fraternity recognized Phi Gamma Gamma Chapter that was recently charted in July 1988 and located in Weurzburg, Germany.

Norman had the unique opportunity to participate in the initiations of all three of his sons into Omega during his tenure as Grand Basileus in 1985, 1987 and 1989. He provided leadership beyond Omega and served as Chairman of the Council of Presidents of the eight Black Greek Fraternities and Sororities. After leaving the office of Grand Basileus in 1990, he served for a number of years as Chair of the Council of Former Grand Basilei.

As previously mentioned, Norman began his professional career as a Teacher of English, Journalism and Humanities with the Atlanta Public Schools at Luther Judson Price High School in 1957. His responsibilities eventually expanded and he became the Department Chair of the English Department in 1968. While school desegregation efforts were underway, he became the Team Leader for the Humanities project between Price High School and Sylvan High School. After Price High School he became a Teacher of English at Dykes High School. Norman transitioned into administration with APS and became Title 4-A Program Planner and Researcher for the Comprehensive Child Development Program. He then became the Instructional Supervisor for English, Social Studies, and Foreign Languages.

Norman’s next assignment was part of a historic shift for APS. In 1973, APS hired Dr. Alonzo Crim as the Superintendent. Crim was the first African-American superintendent of APS, as well as, the first African-American Superintendent in the southern United States. Norman would join his staff as one of the first African-American Area Superintendents for APS when he assumed responsibility for Area IV in 1973. He would later move on from Area IV and become the Area I Superintendent in 1974. Norman served in that role until 1991 when he was promoted and became Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education. He would serve in that role until his retirement from APS in 1992.

He made significant contributions to APS during his tenure as Area Superintendent. One strategic organizational innovation that he brought to APS was organizing all elementary, middle, and high schools into feeder attendance clusters in order to have local school leaders, school staffs, parents, and other community supporters work cooperatively in planning, implementing and assessing the work of schools in pursuing their agreed upon educational outcomes. One specific feature of this innovation was the quarterly School Productivity Audit conducted by members of his staff against a set rubric developed by him in concert with his Advisory Committee. He established two Saturday Schools for tutorial and enrichment in writing and mathematics for students. One was at the elementary level at West Manor Elementary School and the other one was at the secondary level at D.M. Therrell High School.

During Norman’s thirty plus year tenure with APS, he played a key role in the establishment of several magnet programs in high schools, expanding the program for gifted education, and conducting an Annual Fine Arts Festival for K-12 students. Additionally, he established the Area I Lyceum for middle and high school student leaders that included approximately 25-30 students nominated by the teachers from each of the respective schools. The lyceum featured scholars and experts from various fields of endeavor who spoke to the students and engaged in open dialogue with them.

In addition to his responsibilities with APS, Norman served as teacher/coordinator in pre-college programs in the Atlanta University Center for academically talented students. He also served as adjunct professor of Leadership and Policy Studies at Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morris Brown College and West Georgia College.

After his retirement from APS in 1992, he returned to his college alma mater, Clark Atlanta University (formerly Clark College), and assumed several progressive leadership roles. Norman served as Associate Director of the MASTER Institute for Teachers. He also served as Director of Alumni Relations. Norman additionally served as Executive Director of the Athletics Task Force at Clark Atlanta University, and Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA for all athletics programs at the University. He served as an Adjunct Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Education. Norman also served as Executive Director of the CAU task force. He became Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and later was named as the Department Chair of Educational Leadership for the School of Education. He was elevated again and became Dean of the School of Education. In 2016, the Clark Atlanta University School of Education recognized his contributions to the school and established the Norman, Turner and Thompson Scholarship for students attending the School of Education. Norman retired from all of his positions with Clark Atlanta University on June 30, 2017.

Throughout his professional career, Norman was widely recognized as a consultant and workshop facilitator in Instructional Leadership, Supervision of the Instructional Program, Organizational Leadership, Strategic Leadership, Community Partnership Building, and Administration of Urban Schools. He served as educational consultant to the Youth Ministry of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to Department of Defense Schools in Europe. He was also the first African-American to serve as president of the Atlanta Area English Club and the Georgia Council of Teachers of English. For more than a decade, he served with the former Executive Director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Gordon Cawelti, as a member of the Urban Curriculum Planners affiliate and focused on creating and implementing relevant curricula for urban schools throughout the United States.

Norman was the recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards and honors. He received citations recognizing his contributions to education and the community by the Georgia General Assembly, the Georgia State Senate, the Mayor’s Office for the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council, the Georgia Governor’s Office, the Fulton County Commission, the Atlanta Board of Education, Clark Atlanta University and the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from US Senator Wyche Fowler. Norman was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Clark College in 1985. He was selected as one of the Top 100 Executive Educators in America in 1984. Norman was cited by Ebony Magazine in 1985 through 1990 as One of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in America.

He served as president of the Ben Hill Elementary School PTA and as vice president of the Atlanta Council of PTAs and held an Honorary Life Membership from the Georgia Council of PTAs.

Norman was also heavily involved in the civic arena. He served as president of the West Fulton Rotary Club of Atlanta. He was a founding member of the Atlanta Partnership of Business and Education. He was a member of the Education Task Force of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Norman also served as Vice President of the National Assault on Illiteracy. He was also involved with the YMCA, NAACP, and the Boy Scouts.

Norman had a love for sports. For more than thirty years, he was an NCAA college football official in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). He served as Referee during the majority of his officiating duties. During his officiating career he worked more than twenty NCAA Championship Play-off games, including the Division II National Championship game in 1993.

In addition to his participation in officiating on the field, Norman also served as the Director of Football Officials for the SIAC. In that role, he recruited, trained, assigned, critiqued, and evaluated officials who worked games involving the ten football playing members of the SIAC. Additionally, he attended the Annual Meeting of Division II and III Supervisors of football in Chicago.

Norman developed a passion for golf in the mid 1990’s. He would eventually become an active member of the Atlanta chapter of the Pro-Duffers USA. This organization is comprised of amateur golfers in Arkansas, Delaware/Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Northern Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, DC. Norman also provided leadership and served as the Atlanta chapter Parliamentarian for several years. He was committed to improving his game and received the award for 1st place in one of the yearly flights in 2005 from the Atlanta Chapter. Norman was elected as Parliamentarian for the national Pro-Duffers USA organization in 2016.

Norman’s upbringing from a strong Christian family provided a solid foundation for his faith and values throughout his life. He was a devout member of the Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in College Park, Georgia and utilized his gifts of teaching, coaching, and motivating to the benefit of the church. He faithfully served as an accomplished Sunday Morning Bible Study teacher and Director and Instructor of Wednesday Night Bible Study. He enjoyed singing and was a member of the Sanctuary Choir. Norman served as the church parliamentarian. He was a member of the Deacon staff and served as Chairman of the Deacons. He immensely enjoyed his time of worship and openly demonstrated his powerful, loving relationship with Christ.

Norman was a leader in education, the community, and his Christian faith. As a renowned educator, he was revered as a highly respected visionary fostering educational access, equity, and excellence, especially in the urban community and in underdeveloped regions. In addition to his service, Norman was well known for his exceptional oratory. A true statesman, he was often called upon to provide inspiring speeches and remarks and he was gifted in his ability to engage in extemporaneous public speaking.

On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, Dr. Moses C. Norman, Sr. made his final transition, peacefully at home. He was survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Gertrude C. Norman, his children, Moses C. Norman Jr. (Kym), Christopher Kent Norman, and Jeffrey Brenton Norman; his grandchildren, Moses C. Norman III, Jeffrey Brenton Norman II, and Chloe Genevieve Norman, and his eldest brother, Willie F. Norman (deceased) (Edna – deceased).

In August 2017, at the Leadership Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, the leadership of Omega announced the decision to rename the biennial Leadership Conference after Norman. It is now known as the Bro. Dr. Moses C. Norman International Leadership Conference.

In September 2017, Omega also announced the creation of the International Excellence in Education award. It was posthumously awarded to Norman.