Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Black Freemasonry"

Many are not aware of the difficulty in getting your arms around the concept of "Black Freemasonry" or Masonry amongst African-American men.  This post is an attempt to bring some information to the table which could help a number of interested parties understand this better.  I frequently see Mainstream Masonic writers getting some of this wrong.  I think it is particularly difficult for people without a lot of primary knowledge about African-American history or experience to begin with, to easily comprehend the vast history of Black Masonic movements, and the details of our history in the Craft.  I sense many blogs and websites attempting to satisfy an interest in this area.

In addition, there are African-American men who are poorly informed about the Black Masonic history in America.  In the interest of shedding more light, I hope to provide some information that could be helpful.

One thing I would like Blogs and websites to know is that the history of Masonry in the Black Community is extensive, intricate, rich, and interwoven.  If you have a paragraph on the subject, it is likely not scratching the surface. 

There is clear documentation of Freemasonry amongst African-Americans in the 1780s, and the tradition is understood to parallel the formation of the nation.  Prince Hall is considered the "Father" of Freemasonry amongst African-Americans.  But please don't stop there.  It does not tell half the story.

What you will be missing when you cut and past that easily perusable description, is "why" Prince Hall is so honored.  Prince Hall was instrumental in establishing the first documented Lodge in America, consisting of African-American men, who would have called themselves "African", as that was a common way of referring to Black people at that time.  Prince Hall was not the only African-American Freemason at the time, and he may not have been the first.  He is honored as a "father" of our tradition because of the specific role he played in helping to organize and legitimize Freemasonry among African-Americans.

If it had not been for the actions and accomplishments of Prince Hall, there would likely still be African-American Freemasons, and possibly Lodges formed by Black men.  But the Masonic Regularity of those lodges might be in question.  What Prince Hall did for Black Freemasonry, is provided a path of legitimacy, and regularity.


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