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


Friday, September 16, 2016

Masonry on TV: 'Queen Sugar'

A Brother just wrote this afternoon to let me know about an episode of Queen Sugar on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network that just recently aired. The episode is entitled "Evergreen," and is the second in the series. According to him, near the end of the show, a funeral takes place, and it depicted a Masonic funeral service, with the Brethren acting as pall bearers. He added that it was "well done," and several viewers remarked online that it was sensitively and accurately portrayed.

The drama is created, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay and based on a book by Natalie Baszile. The story is set in the fictional town of Saint Josephine, Louisiana. It tells the saga of three estranged adult siblings and their struggles to run a sugar cane farm in the South, inherited after the death of their father, Ernest Bordelon.

The "Evergreen" episode centers around the funeral for their father in which the Masonic service takes place. The title was derived from the sprig placed on the deceased Brother's coffin during the ceremony.

(Thanks to Peter Pendergast for alerting me, and to Mark Leo for sending the image.)

UPDATE: 11/20/2016

I just watched the episode of this show on demand tonight after stumbling across it by accident. What was especially interesting concerning the Masonic service as it was portrayed was that it was not billboarded or made a big deal out of. The actual gravesite service was already underway when the scene began, and it was treated as simply being a natural addition to the remembrance of a deceased Brother. 

The assembled brethren were dressed in their black suits, aprons, officers' jewels, and white gloves, and the Master and Senior Warden read their parts. A S&C was prominently displayed as an ornament on the Master's book. As it progressed, the Master explained the purpose of the evergreen as a Masonic symbol, and then they all placed their sprigs on the closed coffin lid. 

As was observed by others who saw this episode before I did, the scene was very respectfully and accurately presented. I noted that those portraying the Masons were not given screen credit, which makes me wonder a bit if they were actually local Louisiana Prince Hall Freemasons hired by the production company for the scene. Even the detail of brethren squaring their movements were shown, which lends credence to my feeling that at least one real Mason was involved in staging this scene, even if only as an advisor.

In any case, the writers and producers deserve great credit for including this small sequence and for using it to demonstrate the importance of fraternalism and tradition in the lives of many men, even in these cynical times. Nicely done.

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