"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, October 07, 2019

Prince Hall Recognition - Is Mississippi Next?

MW Jason A. Jefcoat, Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of Mississippi F&AM
(UPDATE: This story was previously posted with an incorrect photo that showed Brother Maurice F. Lucas, JUNIOR instead of MW Maurice F. Lucas, SENIOR, who is the Grand Master of the Stringer Grand Lodge of Mississippi (PHA). That corrected photo has been updated below. My apologies for the error, which was mine entirely.)

The historical segregation between the predominantly white "mainstream" Masons and African-American Prince Hall grand lodges in the American South continues to mosey its way to the well-deserved tar pits. While this post is a little less timely than it probably should have been, I wanted to wait a few more days before circulating it.  


Mississippi's "mainstream" and Prince Hall Scottish Rite Masons
were represented at the Scottish Rite in Memphis last week.
The world did not stop spinning on its axis.

The news from last week about the Memphis (TN) Valley of the Scottish Rite and their Prince Hall Affiliated counterparts cooperating wasn't just confined to Tennessee's Masons. As reported, Mississippi had representatives from their own Scottish Rite bodies - "mainstream" and Prince Hall - attending as well. But there's a little more to the story out of Mississippi. 

Back on September 27th, Mississippi's Grand Master, MW Jason A. Jefcoat posted the following message on the Grand Lodge of Mississippi's official Facebook page:
Brethren,
Not long after I was installed as your Grand Master I received an invitation and a request from the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge of Mississippi F&AM, Prince Hall Affiliated for a meeting to discuss the possibility of some type of mutual recognition. As your newly installed Grand Master, with what I still consider an extremely important agenda and a very full schedule, I dismissed this invitation.
Five months later while I was representing our State at the Scottish Rite Biennial Session, I was given the opportunity to meet Brothers from all over the world. In some of these conversations the topic of Prince Hall Masons was discussed. I was made aware of some future events concerning Prince Hall Masonry and our counterparts in the Southeastern Masonic Conference. I talked with Grand Masters whose States have recognized Prince Hall Masons for decades, and I talked to Grand Master whose States are voting on this topic in the very near future. There was a lot of talking, but for once in my life I kept my mouth shut and listened.
Because I know how strongly some of our Brothers feel about this topic, I took my burden to God. I considered the consequences and benefits of what some type of recognition would mean for Mississippi, and I asked Him for help.
Within 24 hours I received a phone call from Grand Master Most Worshipful Brother Maurice Lucas, Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge, Prince Hall Affiliate. I immediately accepted his invitation for lunch the next week. The following is a result of our meeting. The request has been turned over to the Fraternal Relations Committee, and will be presented for a vote at our next Annual Communication.





MW Maurice F. Lucas, Sr.
Grand Master of Stringer GL of Mississippi (PHA)
The letter GM Jefcoat posted was an official written request by MW Maurice F. Lucas, Sr., the Grand Master of the MW Stringer Grand Lodge of Mississippi F&AM (the regular Prince Hall Affiliated grand lodge in that state - see footnote) to discuss joint recognition and arrange a treaty of amity to share concurrent jurisdiction in Mississippi:









Click image to enlarge

Part of the thing that frustrates new and old Masons alike is the glacial speed with which the fraternity operates, especially when topics like recognition arise. When annual meetings are required to make changes, and simple yes/no decisions to proceed or not are measured in years instead of days or minutes, it's easy to assume nothing is happening. 

So.


What this all means to the uninitiated or the frustrated is that Mississippi's Prince Hall (PHA) Masons will be voting on whether or not proceed with this official request at THEIR next annual communication. THEN the Grand Lodge of Mississippi F&AM will take up the question. Presuming both pass the votes, THEN the two grand lodges will officially meet to hammer out details. THEN the two grand lodges will have to both ratify the agreements. And all of this presupposes that both bodies of historically entrenched Masons even agree to undertake any of this in the first place.


All of this creaky back and forth seemed normal in the 18th and 19th centuries when these types of processes were worked out. Unfortunately, when it comes to potentially controversial topics like anything involving race and the American South, the rest of the world can't refrain from hurling accusations and insults south of the Mason-Dixon Line. This isn't an apologia for this longstanding wall between Freemasons there, but let's give fair-minded Masons the proper opportunity to finally solve it at long last. If they do, this map may be changing again sooner than later.



*Just a note for clarity: since after the Civil War, Prince Hall Freemasonry has long been most active and widespread in the American South. If you don't know the history of the National Compact era and the battles between PHA (Prince Hall Affiliated) grand lodges versus the former Compact-era PHO (Prince Hall Origin) grand lodges, this blog can't really do that justice in a short space. If you read online arguments between Masons on both sides, you might see them calling each other "three-letter" or "four-letter" Masons (F&AM vs the Compact's AF&AM). In some states, the early- to mid-20th century attempt to standardize all PHA grand lodge names by changing to "The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of [your state here], F&AM" was frustrated by legal counter-claims over corporate entity names on a state by state basis. 

Consequently, Mississippi's PHA grand lodge is officially named the "Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge of Mississippi F&AM." The Compact-era's PHO grand lodge got to the courthouse first, so it snagged the simpler name .

For related reasons Florida's ungainly regular, recognized PHA name is the "Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity F&AM PHA Florida & Belize, Central America Jurisdiction, Inc."

44 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. "...harmony being the strength and support of all societies..." - I believe the answer is that such a change increases harmony within the fraternity, and it's our obligation as Freemasons to provide examples that strengthen our societies.

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    2. Why not my brother? Please read your 1st Degree again if you are a true mason. Love you my Brother

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    3. Why not change? We cannot claim that we live up to a higher moral standard and refuse to evolve, for the purpose of truly living up to the principal tenets of Masonry. Masonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion, and promotes true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained perpetually at a distance. Let's prove this to be true for me and you. Love you Brother!

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    4. If you believe in the true principles of Main Street it is time for a change how can you say you're all part of the human family but reject your

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    5. Why are we seeking recognition as PHA Masons?? We seek recognition from the very same people that didn’t want us in the organization to begin with. As a PHA Mason I actually prefer the separation. Let black kings dwell amongst each other and let “them” dwell together on their own. /G\

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  2. I hope we can come together. This would be a great thing. For once I would like for Mississippi not be last.

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    1. Maybe pha should start recognize other black bodies like they want from white lodges or else it's lazerus at the rich man's table begging for crumbs

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  3. I have never completely figured out the situation between Capitular, Cryptic and other bodies which are mainstream Caucasian and Prince Hall. In some states they now recognize each other. However, opinions vary on whether one should sit in one or the other of these bodies if someone is there from an unrecognized body. For example, if one is a member of a grand lodge that does not recognize Prince Hall but is in another jurisdiction sitting in a Mark Lodge in a jurisdiction which recognizes Prince Hall Marks and becomes aware that a Prince Hall Mark is present, does this change matters. Does the rule about not being in lodge with someone from either an irregular or unrecognized lodge apply in cases if other than blue lodges. I am afraid that I have resolved this by keeping my seat.

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    1. I had the same question. If I am visiting another jurisdiction and there is also a Prince Hall Brother from a Grand Lodge not recognized by my Grand Lodge, aren't we both violating our obligation?

      It turns out that isn't the case, Michigan Masonic Law clearly addresses this:
      "When visiting and attending lodges or other appendant bodies in another Grand Jurisdiction that recognizes Prince Hall Masons, it has been ruled that it is permissible to abide by the recognition that is in effect in that Grand Jurisdiction while visiting and attending or sitting in lodge with a Prince Hall Mason"

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    2. My understanding is that whatever jurisdiction you are sitting in is the jurisdiction by which you are governed. For example, I am from South Carolina whose GL does not recognize PH, but if I am traveling to say, Illinois which does, I would not be in violation of my obligation to sit with a PH Mason visiting a Regular meeting because I am under the jurisdiction of Illinois.

      That said, would I be permitted to sit in a PH lodge that permits Regular members to visit?

      PLease correct me if I am wrong about this!

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  4. It is good to see possible progress in this area. Gifted author, researcher, and Editor of "the SQUARE" magazine, Philippa Lee has been doing a great job as Editor. In the September 2019 issue, author, David West presents an important article on "Freemasonry and Social Responsibility".

    The article is (in my opinion) about the type of relationship ALL regular Freemasons should have with each other and the OUTSIDE world. It is high and demanding stuff, not for those with weak values. In order to live up to what Brother West suggests, we must continue to make progress and uphold a certain MORAL standard. Will there be adversity? Yes. Distrust? You betcha. Fear? Sure. Misunderstandings? Of course. But I trust Freemasonry is up to the challenge. And yes, the rest of the world is watching. NOW BUILD.

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  5. Same thing I say. You didn’t recognize me today, I won’t recognize you tomorrow. Simple.

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    1. My brother we have to be the change. Read 1st Degree if you are a True Mason. Love u brother

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    2. Bro. PHA... come on bro, that's not progress nor is it logical. We all know the root/reason why the 9 southern jurisdictions does not have a recognition agreement. For the new GM of MS to even consider it, is a step forward for Freemasonry.

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  6. This is a great thing that’s happening in our state ..and it’s past overdue we must bring about better relations for the betterment of the Masonic family and this is the first step.

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  7. The principal tenets of Freemasonry(Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth) should be the guide for both PHA and Mainstream Masons. This should not be an issue that is up for debate in 2019. Brotherly Love should prevail. I grew up in Mississippi but never joined a Mississippi lodge, because of this very fact. I pray that God touches all hearts and work through this with positive results.

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    1. Bro Henry Williams of GeorgiaOctober 08, 2019 10:47 PM

      The debate should be over.... We ARE better than this and will grow stronger when we are able exchange greetings, my brothers.

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  8. Wayne L HarrisonOctober 08, 2019 5:08 PM

    Hopefully we will soon color Tennessee and Mississippi blue on the recognition map leaving only 5 states. I find it curious that West Va. which originally split from Virginia over slavery would be one of the last holdouts.

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    Replies
    1. 5 states? Have I missed something? Last I checked it was still 9 states. Please advise, if you have information on 3 southern jurisdictions that have entered mutual recognition since NC in 2012.

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    2. TO ALL MY MASONIC BRETHREN. I am a Past Master and have traveled from US, Europe, West East Asia and met many brothers of different race. We have decuss the materials that each one received as we traveled from Darkness to the Light. There isn't any difference in what we are instructed in our learning. We as Men has created the Difference. Yes it is time for us to be that shining example to the World. We speak of Brotherly Love. So my brothers let us live for Bible is our landmark we should follow.
      Love to all of the Masonic Family

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    3. Oh... read your statement wrong. Yes, hopefully we shall see.

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    4. Once the number officially gets down to the last five holdouts you might see a sudden rush to try to make sure their state isn't the very last to accomplished it. It's hard to figure which one has the worst odds for being the last: Georgia because it has more PHA Masons than any other state; Louisiana because they are the most litigious out of all 50 states and they can't say good morning there without slapping the other guy in the head with a subpoena; or West Virginia because they still qualify as the North Korea of Freemasonry...

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  9. Bill knight PM Fla. I think it Would Be Great... Grand Lodge Meeting in 2016....I was WM....I saw Black Brothers from All Lodge's some were From the Lodge I was Raise In.....I proud to Be A Mason Are You..!!!???

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  10. We are white we are black yellow red,we bleed breath have the spark of life,all of the from the yniversal understanding of love ,G is the letter you see in lodge it stands for some as God others Geometry ,always for me it a letter that fits all even guidance, its ok to be guarded it ok to fear but you must always have trust.

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  11. Way past due. Let's do it.
    BTW: I have seen PHA members work funerals. I suspect GL ritualists will be astounded at the quality of PHA ritual when mutual recognition permits visitation.

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  12. Brother Eric Davis PHOctober 08, 2019 10:56 PM

    As brothers we are one if we are true traveling men we should always acknowledge one another no matter were we are from we should be able to fellowship no matter the race it's time to come together be stronger than what we are my brothers We are all one under God with Liberty and justice for our Brotherhood

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  13. The Men of the Fourth Estate of MasonryOctober 08, 2019 11:01 PM

    I am extremely disappointed in the Grand Lodge of Florida because their so called recognition of the Prince Hall Affiliated here is nothing more than a farce because the brothers from GLoF cannot visit lodges in the PHA and PHA brothers cannot visit GLoF lodges. This was all the doing of Most Worshipful Karroum that the recognition would only allow Grand Lodge officers from GLoF and PHA but not the brethren. Hopefully Most Worshipful Westerman will correct this before his term is up in June 2020.

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  14. 2019....and we cannot still see the forest from the trees. The number of active masons all across our country, color notwithstanding, have decreased tremendously. Yet, we will not take our time in a knowledging and collaboration with each other. I think it is very clear for those who have traveled through the various degrees and wonderful mysteries, that meeting on the level, is a core belief of our noble fraternity. Level meaning being equals yet we are not equal although all of our teachings infers no one is better than another but complexion of skin in 2019 inside what is supposed to be the most spiritual, inciteful, and intellectual organization the world has ever known, is still at the center of unification, or regular and necessary collaboration. The fact that this letter is still necessary today is appalling. To read this knowing my great grandfather, a black mason, while being ran out of Mississippi by klansman, hid in barns of white masons to make his way to Arkansas, is shameful. I pray the supreme architect of the universe, GOD, almighty, all by HIMSELF shall bring light to all Masons that we are all raised from a dead level, to a living perpendicular on the square of justice, civility and equality. Reggie Lee, 33rd, PM, PDDGL, PHA, MICHIGAN Jurisdiction.

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  15. I would hope, that since we are all children of the Great Architect of the Universe that we are all able to come together as Brothers under the sun.
    Burton Haaz PM

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  16. It is the right thing to do

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  17. We are to meet on the level... correct?

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  18. Neither can consider themselves true to the farternity, for love has no color , you cannot call yourself the pillars of society yet not live as such. Together we are the strength diversion we are to continue as fools. We claim to hold the keys, but if we as a fraternal family brothers, of all affiliates , races, backgrounds don't soon come together we will continue on the path of doing nothing and going no where. The truth must be faced like men. Whom do you put your trust.

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  19. The Moral Standard is the key. Lowering our Morals can’t be wavered not our membership

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  20. SD Bro Paul PayneOctober 09, 2019 4:25 PM

    The brother must understand that being a mason is a honor. We as brother's should never put race and ignorance in the craft period! It make us seem that we are traveling in the dark instead of seeking for light. Think about it my brother's. We need too stop the nonsense. So mote it be.

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  21. As you all said read the first degree. we all bleed blood.

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  22. This would make for a wonderful change. PM Matt

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  23. This look like the whites want to take the one thing black men have been in charge of for years,keep that in Mississippi

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    Replies
    1. Not true, I totally understand why this is a concern of yours. I am a white man, my wife is black and my children are bi-racial. I've seen how racism affects the world. Not only through my eyes but through the eyes of my wife and our children. I love you my brother. And I apologise for the things you have seen or experienced that make you feel this way. I pray that we can equally unite. Not one in front of the other but side by side. UNITED WE STAND.

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  24. Brethren, untied we will stand. Let us not allow ignorance to keep us separated or we shall fall. I pray that every brother no matter race, religion, or creed will allow this acceptance to take place. We are all born from the same /G\. As children we are taught to be kind to one another, to share and to love one another but as some grew older these principal's are lost. Let us not lose the meaning of what it is to be a Mason. May brotherly love prevail.

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