More than 2,000 members of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. protested apartheid yesterday outside the South African Embassy. Nine members were arrested.
More than 3,000 members of the historic black fraternity, which was founded at Howard University, are in the District for celebrations marking the organization's 75th anniversary.
"This march was organized since February of 1985," said Kevin Simons, 24, a member of the fraternity's National Supreme Council. "Omega Psi Phi has a policy statement to oppose apartheid and support nonviolent means to stop it."
Wearing the organization's Greek letter symbols on hats, T-shirts and buttons and dressed in the fraternity's colors of purple and gold, the members chanted "Omega Psi Phi says no to apartheid" and marched in an orderly circle for more than an hour, cheering occasionally at drivers who honked their horns and thrust clenched fists out their windows.
"We have to say something no matter what," said W. Nelson Talbert, 55, of Los Angeles. "We have to let those people know how we feel. Hopefully it will filter down to the powers that be and bring about change."
"We must be supportive in any kind of way," said Harold T. Epps, 34, of Boston. "We must persevere, which is one of our cardinal principles."