Friday, September 19, 2008

GL of North Carolina AF&AM Recognizes Prince Hall Counterpart

The 221st meeting of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina AF&AM convened yesterday in Winston-Salem.

The Resolution for Mutual Recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina and Its Jurisdictions, Inc., and the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina officially passed on September 19, 2008. The vote was 642 Yeas and 328 Nays.

Bravo, brethren. Bravo.

The following US mainstream Grand Lodges remain that do not recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry:

Alabama*
Arkansas*
Florida*
Georgia*
Kentucky
Louisiana*
Mississippi*
South Carolina*
Tennessee*
West Virginia

(* Former Confederate states)

28 comments:

The Millennial Freemason said...

Chris,
Also, the states of West Virginia and Kentucky were slave states that sided with the Union. Hopefully, recognition of GL of NC and PHA GL of NC will began the process of wiping the old vestiges of slavery slowly off the map. Of course, once this happens, we will have removed the external traces of racism and will then need to look within ourselves to remove the internal taint of racism. I feel that we are getting much closer. Fantastic, brothers.
Nick

The Palmetto Bug said...

The train wreck continues.

Chris Hodapp said...

You may see Prince Hall recognition as a train wreck. 80% of US Freemasonry does not. UGLE does not. Only GLs in former slave states try to claim there is a problem—not with racism, heaven forfend, but with jurisdictional sovereignty. That's all. Really it is.

I'm not buying it, my brother. I've read your blog and your back-and-forth with Fred Milliken. You can drag out all of the claims about how far back territorial exclusivity can be traced. It doesn't wash. Blacks have been denied membership in Freemasonry in different states throughout the US since its beginning. It was wrong then, it's wrong now. But we clearly live in very different times. Grand Lodges have dealt with sharing jurisdictions through mutual treaties since colonial days. The grand lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland have been doing it for literally centuries. It wasn't just invented to solve the Prince Hall "problem."

As for some argument that what REALLY needs to happen is a merger between the two GLs, you and I both know that's a delaying tactic designed to sound reasonable, when neither side wants such a thing. No, I'm no fan of "separate but equal," but since Prince Hall Freemasonry has a 230 year tradition, no rational Mason would suggest they give up their heritage.

I have a real low boiling point over racism in Freemasonry. I had to deal with it as a Master of a lodge. Eight years later, a pair of bigots lurking within my lodge showed up at a funeral service and dragged it up all over again. I've had a Georgia cop jab me in the chest and tell me in no uncertain terms blacks cannot be Masons. I've had masons swear up and down that "freeborn" was from an old Roman term meaning "never descended from slavery," even though it was proved to them no such definition ever existed outside of old Masonic monitors. So I don't really go in much for contentions that PHA recognition is a "train wreck." It's not a "train wreck" in the states where it has occurred. It won't be a "train wreck" in any new states that it occurs in, unless individual Masons with a pigmentation-based chip on their shoulders make it so.

What IS a train wreck is the stain of bigotry that hangs over Freemasonry in the Confederate states, and in a rotten few individuals like the two in my lodge. It's 2008, gentlemen. The Civil War ended 143 years ago. The Civil Rights Act was passed 44 years ago. No one wants to force all-white or all-black Masonic lodges to integrate or engage in court-ordered sweetheart dances with each other. Engaging in institutionalized racism is frankly disgusting, especially when it is within a fraternity that is supposed to be about universal brotherhood.

Freemasonry is not an extension of the Klan, and this is not the Augusta Country Club. The map of GLs that don't recognize PHA GLs is shrinking every year. Some wear it like a badge of honor. the rest of us are disgusted that it even exists.

Traveling Man said...

To quote my late father who was a Drill Instructor in the United States Army: "BOOO-YAH!!!"

Way to go North Carolina!

Traveling Man

Traveling Man said...

Worshipful Brother Hodapp, I could not have put it any better than you did. Your last comment should go up on bilboards in Jurisdictions that do no recognize Prince Hall Masonry.

My Lodge Shares a building with our Prince Hall Brethren. A Past Grand Master from the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of The State of Connecticut was present for my Master Mason Degree.

And just for the record, anyone who pokes you in the chest and mouths the filth that they did is no Brother of mine...

Be Well,

Traveling Man

P.S. I am more sorry than I can say that I will not be able to see you speak in CT. My familial obligations will not permit it. That said, I hope you find yourself most welcome in Connecticut. I am sure V:.W:.Bro:. Accousti will represnt the Nutmeg Bloggers admirably.

Tom Accuosti said...

but since Prince Hall Freemasonry has a 230 year tradition, no rational Mason would suggest they give up their heritage.

Hey Bug - since the MM degree is a "recent" innovation (it was introduced after the 1717 GL formation), maybe we should go back to having just 2 degrees.

And meeting in barns by lanterns.

And walking to lodge during the full moon.

You know, I seem to remember that the "G" inside the S&C hasn't been around very long, either. Let's do away with that, while we're at it.

My point is that sometimes things change, and the spirit of Masonry somehow manages to accommodate that change. Remember our own Antients & Moderns split in the 1700s? Somehow they managed to get back together after a generation and accommodate both sides.

The spirit, Bro. Bug, is sometimes more important than the letter of the law.

Tom Accuosti said...

Oh, and Chris? We really are excited about your visit. I just discovered that you met our PGM Chip Stamm last year - and you lived to tell the tale. A few of your fellow blog admirers won't be able to make it that night, but but all send their regards.

Scout32 said...

W.Bro. Chris,

So mote it be!

I am going to introduce a possibly volatile issue here. After listening to a talk show, a guest stated that race and not issues may determine who our next president and vice president will be. I don't want to sound like I'm pushing any candidate, but I had hoped that by the 21st Century, the United States electorate would not be basing its vote on race, sex, or religion. I had hoped that they would elect on a candidate's qualifications.
Fratenally,
Chris Kimmel
Vincennes Lodge #1

Derek Cheek said...

I was there when it happenned. After the results were read, over 300 Masons, "?" got up and left the room.......most didn't even stay to see MWGM Cash leave the East and offer up his prayers on bended knee to Diety at the Holy Alter to heal his GL and to keep peace and harmony. Its over...Masonry needs to move on and progress in the 21st century.

Justa Mason said...

Chris, next weekend, there's a nice little 12th anniversary celebration to mark the joint recognition between my GL and the PH GL which has a small Lodge here. The two GMs at the time of recognition will be present; one has not been well for a number of years. I was present at the first official visit of a PH Lodge to a Lodge in my jurisdiction.

I've visited the local PH Lodge, though not much recently, and they're a fine bunch.

Justa Mason

Chris Hodapp said...

The story made the Raleigh paper on Sunday.

Justa Mason said...

Thanks for the link to the newspaper story, Chris. Two things have struck me (I haven't finished reading the story but have stopped to comment).

I'm somewhat taken aback that one group recognised the other four years ago. Generally, recognition is mutual.

Then, there's this paraphrase:

most of the Masons in his organization grew up during segregation and have had to work to embrace the notion of diversity.

It's almost unbelievable to read something like as it's so foreign to any of my experiences here in Canada and amongst Masons I know here. "Embracing diversity" is a given.

It sounds as if North Carolina is getting the train back on the tracks.

Justa Mason

The Palmetto Bug said...

Chris et al,

I realize here in the Internet world that I hold a minority opinion concerning this issue. My concerns about this slow motion train wreck stem entirely from my concern for the future of the structure of Freemasonry. I am truly concerned that a precedent is being set that will come back to haunt Freemasonry - PHA included - one day.

Tom: I have researched the union between the Ancients and Moderns extensively - especially here in my State. Based upon writings from the times, they truly despised each other. But even they never mentioned recognition - they went straight for the tough, but correct, solution.

Derek: Getting up and marching out following a vote that didn't go your way is wrong and probably is a Masonic offense. For 300 to have done so is truly sad. When mutual recognition happens in my GJ - and I'm sure it will one day - I won't like it. But that does not give me the right to get up and march out of an open GL or Lodge. My obligations will require me to accept such a change to the Masonic law.

Chris Hodapp said...

The structure of Masonry will be just fine.

At one time, Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland all shared territory in India, by treaty, and each expanded across the country. In the 1960s, they all agreed to cede their territorial claims and the lodges came together to form the Grand Lodge of India. Mergers work. On the other hand, the Grand Lodge of Japan shares territory with English and Scottish Constitution lodges. Mergers work. Sharing territory works. There is no rule.

As mainstream Masonry attracts more and more men of color who have no desire to be identified with a separate but equal policy, the Prince Hall lodges will fade away. I can't claim to have originated the comparison, but baseball is a good analogy. Once Major League Baseball integrated, the Negro leagues lost their reason to exist. Good for the game, bad for history and heritage and pride, and the important role the negro leagues played in establishing pride within the black community.

Likewise, you would be hard to name an organization, apart from black churches, that had a more profound positive effect on the black community after the Civil War than fraternalism, especially Prince Hall Freemasonry. And that influence went on right up through the 1970s.

I my own state, PHA Masonry has shrunk down to less than 1,500 members (and even that may be a high exaggeration). Indiana mainstream Masons have been working with PHA brethren for over a decade forging new friendships and working relationships, in spite of a few protectionist bumps along the way. PHA Masonry has a justified fear that mainstream Masonry will swallow them whole, especially as a shrinking number of young black professionals want to be strictly associated with a predominantly black-only group. But socially, people like who they like. We all hang with folks we feel most comfortable being with, and agreements, mergers, courts and laws will never change that.

I am saddened to hear about 300 Masons walking out of the GL of NC after the vote to recognize PHA Masonry. But no one has deprived anybody of the right to object to a visitor, if that's what they really want to do. No one has removed their right to reject a candidate, if they can't get beyond the race question. I don't know about yours, but the petitions in my lodge are color-blind. If they cannot bring themselves to accept the vote of GL, I would hope they would demit, rather than be an ongoing source of strife within the fraternity.

It is high time for the fraternity that is dedicated to worldwide brotherhood to really practice what it preaches. Part of making a good man a better one is to become loving of all of his brethren. If the color of their skin is an impediment to that love, it's time to go elsewhere.

Justa Mason said...

Chris, I'm baffled reading that the "structure" of my Grand Lodge is somehow affected by recognising another Grand Lodge.

We've been recognising other Grand Lodges since 1872. We've de-recognised a few since then, too. My GL carries on with its business as it always has.

If a GL meets the criteria set by my GL, I see no reason to withhold recognition.

Justa Mason

Dale said...

Excellent news and two on-the-money comments, Worshipful Brother Chris.

Can't wait until it happens here in Florida.

Pino said...

I am saddened to hear about 300 Masons walking out of the GL of NC after the vote to recognize PHA Masonry.

Hi Chris. I also was there and while a number of Masons did leave the lodge, I do not think that it was in protest; this vote simply was a large reason they came to GL.

Just shy of 1000 Masons voted on the Prince Hall issue that afternoon. After the vote, a number did leave, but, by morning, we were voting in new line officers with votes back near 900.

I suspect many NC Masons were disappointed but reflected upon the plumb; and met once again on the level.

-pino

Cambion7 said...

When I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, it was done on a Washington's Daylight Degree in 1999 with many lodges in our district attending. One such lodge was a Prince Hall lodge. It was an extreme honor to have members of Prince Hall not only attend, of participate in one of the sections of my third degree.

Scott
Vacaville Lodge #134, F&AM
Vacaville, California

2 BOWL CAIN said...

Brother Scott,
If any of the PHA brethren were gates men, I salute you!

David said...

Where's the list of the MWPHA GL's in those "racist" juridictions that does not want recognition from the Mainstream GL's ? It's funny how you hear PHA Masons from those states say that their PHA GL's and some of the regular PHA members does not want recognition from the Mainstream GL's and admits that the problem is from both sides , but you sure don't hear about that now do you ? Recognition is a two-way street . Yet it's all the "mainstreams" fault and has nothing to do with reverse racism . I'll be sure to pass along to the black Mainstream Masons in KY that they are racists .

Chris Hodapp said...

I don't disagree with you. Racism, like recognition and progress, is a two way street.

It has long been Masonic protocol around the world that the "younger" grand lodge requests recognition from the "older" one, even if they are both more than 100 years old. There may be PHA GLs that fear recognition is the first step to being swallowed whole by the mainstream. There may be PHA GLs with good old fashioned bigots at the helm. There may be PHA GLs with raging egotists in their grand lines who have no intention of doing anything that might endanger their march to the Grand East. There may be PHA GLs that regard the notion of asking for recognition to be undignified begging. And there may be PHA GLs that just plain couldn't care less.

It was just at the 2008 Conference of Grand Masters in North America that a delegation of PHA GMs were allowed to sit in their session, primarily because the Southern states that did not recognize PHA GLs loudly or quietly objected to this in previous years. Baby steps, yes. But a step, nonetheless.

Bottom line is no court, government, club, conference or focus group can order people to socialize with people they don't want to be around. Only the evolution of society can accomplish that. I'm not a big one on the phrase "what we need are a few more Masonic funerals." That's generally a copout for dong nothing and clinging like a Titanic victim to the driftwood of the past. But recent experience tells me that the entrenched bigots who keep institutionalized racism alive in this fraternity need to die off and be replaced by leadership who don't condone racism in their jobs, housing, teams, water fountains and lunch counters, and sure as hell won't stand for it in their fraternity's rules (written and unwritten).

We say we "make good men better." I can't think of a better mission than making our lodges an unfit place to be crass, bigoted, and downright insulting to a substantial portion of the world's population. But it takes standing up and saying, "Sorry, brother, but I don't find your joke funny, and your insulting remarks are not welcome here. The Secretary has demit forms. Please make use of them."

The Millennial Freemason said...

Chris said: But it takes standing up and saying, "Sorry, brother, but I don't find your joke funny, and your insulting remarks are not welcome here. The Secretary has demit forms. Please make use of them."
-------------------------------------
I agree completely. The newest generation of brothers will not put up with old discriminatory policies. When I was in school, the message was tolerance, tolerance, tolerance. Thankfully, I think this is the way that the world is going. The train is not off the tracks, it is full steam ahead. As long as no one is asleep at the switch, Freemasonry will arrive right on time to carry a new generation of brothers to enlightenment.
Nick

jubeloh said...

Actually, West Virginia was never a slave state. It was admitted to the Union in 1863 after separating from Virginia, which had seceded from the Union. Admission rules as required by the US Constitution were fudged in order to admit West Virginia as a state. Robert Ross, Senior Deacon, La Mesa #407, La Mesa California.

neutronjockey said...

It's about time free men started to recognize other free men.
Congratulations N. Carolina.

The Millennial Freemason said...

jubeloh:
Actually West Virginia did not officially abolish slavery until Feb. 3, 1865. West Virginia was known as a "border state" along with Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware, and Maryland. West Virginia was Unionist which is different than anti-slavery.

Nick

Bro. Muhammad Shaheed said...

Greetings brothers. Just seeing the recognition of PHA GL of North Carolina is a big step. The question is will other brothers recognize it. I think the key is to keep to our OB that we all placed our hands on our rule and guide. It shouldn't be a problem if I'm in distress and call for a brother to help me. As MM's we know that this is a duty! Not an option. So where we are AF&AM or PHA F&AM, a MM is a MM no matter what. Some of my best friends/Brothers are of other races in mainstream and PHA F&AM. We have all been close over the years. Because brothers are brothers. Heck I started in PHA F&AM (now in AF&AM) so I have no choice but to give the utmost respect to the Craft because of the teachings I learned there. It has helped me more than you can imagine.

I recite my OB's in my mind and read them so that I may live it and not just say them. We have to read our OB's everyday and live them.

Bro. Muhammad Shaheed
Knights of the East Lodge #004,
Virginia Beach, VA

Bro. Muhammad Shaheed said...

I think this is a wonderful step towards true brotherhood.

Bro. Muhammad Shaheed
Knights of the East Lodge 004
Virginia Beach, VA

Bro. Vinson said...

I think it is great that old values are going away. Lets look at a man as a man. Hold him responsible for his actions. I am responsible to my god, my country, and my family. I take my obligation seriously. I have seen troubles in organizations. I traveled with Knights of the East #004, Ezra #001, and South Norfolk #339. I have seen things go right and wrong. It is time that we all come together as brother. Too much ignorant behavior will be the death of us all.