"This year history was made when the conference invited and received a delegation from the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters, lead by its president, MWGM Shelton D. Redden of the MWPHGL of Maryland.
GM Redden accompanied by several past and present Grand Masters and two Past Masters attended the conference and were graciously received."
Meanwhile, in the southern states where it is often alleged that racism is the order of the day in mainstream lodges, I continue to quietly discover sporadic news to the contrary. While I was in Louisville that Saturday addressing the Grand Lodge of Kentucky's Lodge education seminar, I was told that two African-American brethren were raised last year in a rural Kentucky lodge (imagine the thoughts of these men, who walked into a room of white men, properly prepared with a cabletow). Black Worshipful Masters have been elected in North Carolina and Florida this year.
And yet, I received an email from a brother in Florida where some Hoosier snowbirds claimed that Indiana mainstream lodges don't accept petitions from black men, now that we recognize the MW Prince Grand Lodge of Indiana. Never mind that the Indiana Masonic Law clarified that there was no disqualification for a black man to petition and receive the degrees – over 100 years ago.
Are there Masons, in every state, mainstream and Prince Hall, who believe their local lodge should be the last bastion of the separation of the races, the way their fathers and grandfathers always taught them? Certainly. And all of the laws and regulations passed by well-meaning people won't ever change the personal desires of all of us to pick and choose whom we will socialize with, or whom we feel comfortable around. But society itself has legally made segregation an anathema, and young professional men joining our lodges don't find discrimination in their jobs, their housing, their lunch counters or their schools. The last place they should find it is in a fraternity that teaches the brotherhood of Man under the fatherhood of God, where all men are supposed to meet on the level.
I've seen calls by some enthusiastic brethren to threaten the last few grand lodges that do not recognize their Prince Hall counterparts with derecognition until they knuckle under. Yet curiously, these are often the same men who decried the actions of northeastern grand lodges that derecognized Minnesota over the Grande Loge de France issue several years ago. Either grand lodges are sovereign or they aren't, and sabre rattling against a state's grand lodge is no way to affect change. The marketplace of ideas is where these battles will be won. Changes in the institutional attitudes of lodges will happen as more men who won't accept inappropriate language, insulting jokes or prejudicial badmouthing become officers and stop allowing such behavior from their members. And grand lodge policies will be overturned when the rank and file demand it. It will happen. It's happening now.