by Christopher Hodapp
My post on July 4th, Why Freemasonry Still Matters, generated an unprecedented amount of discussion, pro and con, in numerous Facebook groups and elsewhere over the last several days. (If you didn't see it, go read it before you continue below.) I also received an astonishing number of private messages about it. But one response especially stood out.
Brother James R. Morgan III is a Prince Hall Mason in Washington, D.C. and a Curatorial Consultant at that city's African-American Civil War Museum. He is an author and historian, and recently published the outstanding book, The Lost Empire: Black Freemasonry in the Old West (1867-1906).
On Sunday, James was motivated to pen his own thoughtful response to my essay, entitled 'What to the Prince Hall Freemason is the Fourth of July? - Why Black Masonic Memory Matters' (his title is a deliberate play upon a famed abolitionist speech by Frederick Douglass in 1852, commonly known as 'What to the slave is the Fourth of July?'). In it, he rhetorically points out incidents and issues I did not discuss in my original post, and seems to be less critical of what I actually said than of what I did not say. Please read it and decide for yourself.
Freemasonry is needed more today than at any time in the last century and a half in this country, because we as Masons hold the key to building and protecting and advancing enlightened civilization just as we have done at critical moments in the past. What's important is that I don't regard James and myself as being on opposite sides of the issues I originally wrote about — we are merely looking at it from both sides of a picket fence that sometimes blocks as much as it admits. If the Masonic fraternity is to remain relevant to today's society and tomorrow's, it will be because we meet upon the level and discuss controversies in a reasoned, tolerant, calm and rational manner that is passionate without 'growl and batter,' and always departing as friends and brothers.