Council of Organizations, Inc.: (601) 485-6440
Lauderdale County Tourism: (601) 482-8001

Council of Organizations, Inc

History of the Council of Organizations, Inc.

The Council of Organizations, Inc. has maintained a strong social, cultural, and educational presence in the Meridian community for over four decades with its various member clubs. As a non-profit community organization, "The Council" gives community members a haven to facilitate exchange of ideas and awareness while providing a venue for public or private social and cultural events. The council building is named in honor of Meridian legend the late Mr. Carlia Edward "C.E." Oatis, Jr., and our organization builds on our rich heritage while engaging in active work to secure a great future for tomorrow's leaders.

The actual organization of the Council took place on August 20, 1972 in the Club home of the Viscounts Civic and Social Club with representatives from twenty (20) of Meridian’s civic, social, business, professional, fraternal, and educational clubs. The group saw its purpose as being to serve the various member agencies by:
  1. Providing for the discussion of mutual problems.
  2. Exchanging information, experiences, ideas, and methods through workshops, clinics, and forums.
  3. Doing collectively for member organizations what would be impossible for them to do individually and maintaining a headquarters building.
Officers elected were: C.E. Oatis, Jr., President: Lula Barksdale, First Vice President; Mary J. Houze, Second Vice President; Barbara Griffin, Recording Secretary; Tennye Griffin, Financial Secretary; George Key, Treasurer; Foster Coleman, Business Manager; and Maeola L. Turner, Parliamentarian.
1975: the Charter and Articles of Incorporation were granted from the State of Mississippi on March 24, 1975. The charter member clubs were:
  • Active Wives Savings Club
  • Apple Blossom Belles Club
  • Chiffonetts Social Club
  • Elite Social Club
  • Happy Twenties Social Club
  • Jolly Pals Social Club
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
  • Ladies of Venue Social Club
  • Meridian Beauticians Club
  • Metropolitan Lodge #551 (Elks)
  • Mordernetts Savings Club
  • National Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club
  • Meridian Chapter, Negro Business League, Inc.
  • Pep Social Club
  • Philo 12 Social Club
  • Twentieth Century Social Club
  • Viscountessess Social Club
  • Viscounts Social Club
  • Delta Nu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
  • Gamma Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
The first Meridianites Picnic was held in Detroit, Michigan in 1967 (See Meridianites History for additional information). George Key attended the 1972 picnic in Cincinnati, Ohio. This gave impetus to holding the picnic in Meridian in an ensuring year. C. E. Oatis, Jr. attended the 1973 picnic in Los Angeles, and it was agreed to bring the picnic to Meridian in 1974. It was then agreed to the five-year rotation with the picnic and convention returning to Meridian every five (5) years.

1972-2013: At the end of some forty-one (41) years, the Council can look with pride at the accumulated achievement of a conglomerate of organizations that began with fourteen members and has expended to over 200. The Council of Organizations, Inc. and its affiliates have expanded from meeting in the Viscounts location to the following:
1976: purchase of the old IGA Building 814 45th Avenue

1983: first major addition to Council Building with enlarging of original restrooms

1984: new addition to the original wing with President’s and Secretary’s offices; two meeting rooms, and restrooms (ladies and gentlemen)

1990’s-2000’s: New roofs, the planters, the Around Town Carousel Project to support Hope Village for Neglected and Abused Children with our horse Ebony Pride, the installation of more than 100+ commemorative bricks. A place for clubs and organizations to meet, family/class reunions, blues and gospel shows, election sites, health fairs, celebratory events (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries.)

2000’s-present: Read-Ins during Black History Month, Zeta Tots for Teens and Salute to Minority Students Programs, Amici and Amacae Programs, Phi Beta Sigma and Sigma Beta Club Programs, Delta Sigma Theta programs, Alpha Kappa Alpha programs, Jackson State University Alumni, MS Valley State University Alumni, and Alcorn State University Alumni Scholarship programs. Hearty 40’s Spring Fling and Hearty 40’s and Roadway Drivers Christmas Dances, a Breaking of Bread to Honor Barack Obama on his election as President.

2009: Council of Organizations Building renamed the Carlia Edward Oatis, Jr. Building
Council Presidents: C. E. Oatis, Jr. (1974-2010; death March 2011), Robert Buford (2009-2011; death November 2011), Otis Gowdy, Sr. (2011-present)
  • Sr. President – Otis Gowdy
  • 1st Vice President – Celois Vaughn
  • 2nd Vice President – Louis Sutton, Jr.
  • Secretary – Dorothy Baskin
  • Treasurer –Barbara P. White
  • Asst. Secretary – Kletina Stennis Hall
  • Parliamentarian – Dr. Otis Gowdy, Jr.
  • Member at Large – Irene Wade
  • Member at LargeMable Hoskins Oatis
  • Member at LargeJenifer Buford
The Council currently serves these clubs, organizations, fraternities, and sororities:
  • Aurora Bridge Club
  • Black Esquire Brothers
  • Delta Nu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
  • Gamma Epsilon Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
  • Meridian/Lauderdale Alumni Chapter of Jackson State University
  • MHS Class of ’89
  • Sandwedge Golf Club
  • Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc.
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
  • Meridian Alumni Chapter MS Valley State University
  • Meridian Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club, Inc.
  • Omicron Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • XYZ Associate Club
  • Xavier University of Louisiana Meridian Alumni
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