Sunday, February 28, 2010

Masonic License Plates in Arkansas?


Mock up based on other Arkansas speciality plates.

The Burning Taper is reporting that Sebastian Lodge No. 706 of Fort Smith, Arkansas currently has this statement atop its homepage:

NOTICE: Grand Lodge has declared that No Freemason of Arkansas is to purchase a Masonic license plate. These are for Prince Hall Masons, which Arkansas considers to be clandestine lodges. Sebastian Lodge does not condone the viewpoint, nevertheless we are to notify everyone of this decision. 2 FEB 2010

So far, I have been unable to find any other reference to this statement, even on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM website. Nor have I found any documentation that such a license plate exists in Arkansas, even on the Office of Motor Vehicle website. The website of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Jurisdiction of Arkansas, F.&A.M. is also silent on the subject.

The Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM is one of ten jurisdictions remaining in the U..S. that do not recognize their Prince Hall (PHA) grand lodge counterparts.



UPDATE:
Brother Fred Milliken, who is a member of a Prince Hall lodge in Texas, passed the following message along:


Having just returned from the 138th Grand Session of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas I can testify to the fact that the Masonic license plate is an official license plate issued by the state of Arkansas, what some of us in other states would call a "vanity plate." It is not a decorative plate for the front of the vehicle but would be a purchaser's official vehicle license plate. It is also a generic plate neither geared toward Mainstream or PHA. The fact that Prince Hall initiated this program and got it approved by the state of Arkansas and thus a portion of the sale of every license plate goes to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge seems to have Arkansas Mainstream Masons' knickers in a twist.


According to Janet Beck at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the specialty fees for the plates go to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Community Outreach Inc. in Pine Bluff, which grants scholarships to Arkansas high school seniors.

Fred has posted a copy of the letter from the Grand Master here.

23 comments:

Ken said...

It is my opinion that any Grand Lodge or Lodge that fails to recognize Prince Hall or admit African Americans should be considered clandestine. Period. The exclusion of black masons is a stain on the brotherhood.

ACocco said...

It's still a shame that there are 10 Jurisdictions that do not recognize Prince Hall. Thankfully, in Nevada we not only recognize Prince Hall, but any Prince Hall that the PHA of Nevada recognizes, we do!
Arcangelo Cocco, WM
Nellis Lodge #46
Las Vegas

Chris Hodapp said...

Brother Ken,
In fairness, the admitting of black brethren into mainstream lodges is not the same issue as Prince Hall recognition. But yes, I agree, the exclusion of black Masons from mainstream Freemasonry is indeed a stain on the brotherhood.

Ken said...

Brother Chris,
I totally understand they are two separate issues. I just believe strongly that both are unacceptable.
The so called "progressive" Grand Lodges need to start putting pressure on the hold outs. Both those that refuse to recognize PH and those that will not admit black members. The only real way to do that is to rescind recognition.

Mark Adams said...

There is apparently no official Arkansas state government-issued plate, but with AK being one of the states that requires a plate only on the rear of the vehicle, could this be referring to the purely decorative plates that are occasionally displayed on front bumpers?

rich said...

My understanding is there have been revocation of recognition and threats of such for recognizing PHA or "Negro Lodges" but not any for discrimination.

Ken said...

Bro. Rich,
Seems a little like the tail wagging the dog, doesn't it? Why do the few hold out Grand Lodges seem to be the ones holding the cards?
How many snowbird Masons who were raised in the North East but now live in Arkansas would no longer be able to attend lodge in Arkansas if we pulled recognition? How much would they lose in per capita dues from those members no longer being able to hold dual membership in Arkansas?
It's 2010. This should have been done with 50 years ago.

vfaria said...

It's contradicting to our own values that this issue still exists in some lodges in our nation. It's frustrating to know that our own Grand Lodges receives information about this and do nothing about it. Of course each state is independent with a Grand Lodge for their own, but the United States Freemasonry is still one in a since because of our Universal Brotherhood. So I think that our Grand Lodges should try to "Council" our Brethren that may need some reminder of our obligations and rights. Even though we have a freewill and accord, but more importantly we have our obligations that we SWORN upon to keep. Especially as Master Masons. In a since incidents like this could look bad to other states in our nation, other countries, and more importantly to our selves.

Frederic L. Milliken said...

Having just returned from the 138th Grand Session of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas I can testify to the fact that the Masonic license plate is an official license plate issued by the state of Arkansas, what some of us in other states would call a "vanity plate." It is not a decorative plate for the front of the vehicle but would be a purchaser's official vehicle license plate. It is also a generic plate neither geared toward Mainstream or PHA. The fact that Prince Hall initiated this program and got it approved by the state of Arkansas and thus a portion of the sale of every license plate goes to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge seems to have Arkansas Mainstream Masons' knickers in a twist.

Bro. Frederic L. Milliken
MWPHGL Texas

Chris Hodapp said...

Heh. They could have cooperated and split the proceeds, but then that would be...cooperating. And acknowledging the "other side" existed.

A real shame.

Arkansas has not put the plate on their specialty plate web page yet.

Widow's Son said...

A similar notice can now be found on the Boone Lodge No. 314 (Harrison, Ark.) website at http://www.mastermason.com/Boone314/.

"NOTICE: Grand Lodge of Arkansas has declared that no Arkansas Freemason is to purchase a Masonic Arkansas license plate. These are for Prince Hall Masons, which Arkansas considers to be clandestine lodges.

"This notice fulfills the requirement of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas for each subordinated Lodge to inform their members.

"The publishing of this notice does not necessarily reflect the views of Boone Lodge or its members."


Widow's Son
BurningTaper.com

Chris Hodapp said...

According to Janet Beck at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the specialty fees for the plates go to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Community Outreach Inc. in Pine Bluff, which grants scholarships to Arkansas high school seniors.

Widow's Son said...

So it wouldn't be unfair to say that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is taking away a potential source of scholarship money for Arkansas high school students by not participating in the license plate program?

— W.S.

Chris Hodapp said...

It was asked elsewhere if the GL of Arkansas prohibits its members from writing a check to a Prince Hall charity. That is essentially the situation with this license plate.

Antony said...

Arkansas does have an official Masonic Plate that's is being
issued by the Department of Fianance and Adminstration. The proceeds will go to the Prince Hall Outreach Community Outreach Program that will will continue to provide scholarships to ALL students who qualify regardless of race or if their parents are apart of the Masonic family. This will only help deserving students who want to better our state by keeping good colloge graduates in our state. Rather it's Prince Hall, mainstream, F&AM or AF&AM we are all MASONS... We have the same ritual, we have the same oath, we have the same goal: to come together to be better men for our families, our country and most important, God...We need to come together as one body to help to do what the men have done before us and pave the way for what our sons will do after us.. So I challenge each Mason in this great state to use your better judgement as a family man, as a brother of the craft, and most important as a Mason. "We don't need more men in Masonry, we need more Masonry in Men"... William Franklin 1908-1993...

ftpd090 said...

Word has spread that Grand Lodge of Arkansas has revoked Sebastian Lodge's charter. The website was the reason for revocation. It would seem that Sebastian Lodge has fallen for mentioning the license plate issue. Boone Lodge hasn't been shut down for their website post. Will any Mason stand up for our brethren of Sebastian? I have sent a letter to their Grand Lodge officers. But being from out of state, no person will care.

forabetterlife said...

The creator of the Sebastian Lodge website is being tried for unmasonic conduct to be permanently EXPELLED.

For not condoning the letter against the license plates, charges were brought against him by the Grand Master. Other charges were added as well to help push it through.

A new rule was made to assist in the expulsion outlawing electronic communications of GL directives.

Read the only page at sebastianlodge.com for more I guess.

Write letters or call in support of him to AR's Grand Lodge.

Brojohn said...

The charges on the creator of the Sebastian Lodge stem from the fact that our lodge had placed on its website parts of the Craft and memory work which were put out there for the public to see it did not have to do with the license plate memo. We at the Sebastian Lodge should have paid more attention to what was on our website. We just left it in charge of the secretary not a wise thing to do not knowing what is being put out there in the name of your lodge.

Bro. James Sebastian Lodge 706

Hiram Abiff said...

Just for clarification, Prince Hall is not a BLACK Masonic organization. In fact, many Prince Hall Masons are not black. Prince Hall Masonry is found at many military installations and if you were to attend a meeting you would find as varied a mix of races as anywhere.
It's not the color of skin that some southern Lodges object to, it is how they were founded and recognized. They kind of went "around" the traditional method.
By the way, I live in Massachusetts and have visited the Prince Hall Lodge Number 1 several times.
Eric Callahan
DeWitt Clinton Lodge
Dennis, MA

Chris Hodapp said...

Prince Hall Freemasonry is historically and predominantly made of of black members. Certainly not exclusively, but predominantly. It developed as almost every social and cultural institution did in the 180 or so years after the American Revolution. That's not pejorative, it's just the way society developed. But as you point out, PHA has active military lodges and is often the first way servicemen overseas are introduced to the fraternity. Many join these PHA lodges and come home, only to be derisively told they joined the "wrong" Masonry.

Prince Hall Freemasonry did not go "around" the "traditional" method of founding, any more than the three post-Revolution predominantly white grand lodges at work in Massachusetts did before finally merging into what became the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Chris Hodapp said...

Ask a Massachusetts Mason sometime where the venerated St. Andrews Lodge in Boston, ground zero of the Revolution, got its charter.

cbarry said...

one point that has not been raised: does the Prince Hall Grand lodge of Arkansas recognize and accept Blue lodge free masons in their Lodge?

cbarry said...

it appears to me that making the Sebastin Lodge secretary a good guy is what the trend on this site is about; rather,it is a given, any person that is part of any organization, public or private, that disparages the leadership of that organization is asking for trouble from those in leadership. and a possible example of that truth may be seen if this comment is not posted.