Guest Contribution - "It's Not Yet Time"
The following is a personal post from a Guest Contributor that lives in the District of Columbia, and poses many heartfelt and poignant questions:
Grand Masters like to make it a yearly thing to both look into why membership is continuously declining, and to increase our numbers. What each and every Grand Master who does so FAILS to do, is attempt to figure out the cause of this decline in membership. There are actually many reasons, and this post is not meant really to address that topic as a whole, rather I want to take some time to call out one of those reasons itself…racism.
Worshipful Chris Hodapp just posted a story regarding the finalization of the recognition compact between the Grand Lodge of Florida, and the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of Florida, their Prince Hall counterpart (LINK TO ARTICLE) While it seems odd in 2019 to congratulate them on this, in this case late is better than never, and it does show that while late, improvement and growth can always be made.
But that leaves us with seven states where the “mainstream” (its really a bad term, I know) Grand Lodge does not recognize their Prince Hall counterpart. Seven…in 2019. West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. In his article, Worshipful Hodapp makes light of an effort recently in South Carolina to recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry. This effort was shot down by the Jurisprudence Committee on the grounds that…”it’s not yet time”.
Go ahead, I’ll pause for a moment while you attempt to wrap your head around the sheer absurdity of that statement. Can someone tell me what that even means? Because I certainly don’t know.
It's not yet time.
On March 6th, 1775 Prince Hall and fifteen other men after being rejected admission into a colonial Lodge in Boston formed their own Lodge, African Lodge No. 1. These were all free men, but they were rejected, and limited in what they could do as a Grand Lodge until the United Grand Lodge of England formally recognized them in 1784.
On January 1 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Presidential Proclamation and executive order that gave slaves their freedom. In 1864, this became enshrined in our Constitution with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery, and involuntary servitude. Keep in mind even with this, African-American’s were still considered second class (or even lower) citizens and selective enforcement of the Amendment didn’t help matters either.
In 1964 the Civil Rights act was passed that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in school, employment and public accommodations were all prohibited. While the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment gave all males, regardless of their color the right to vote, it wasn’t until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the Amendment had any teeth.
Now you’d think that it was around this time that “mainstream” Grand Lodges began recognizing their Prince Hall counterparts, but no, it took another twenty-four years for that to happen. In 1989 Connecticut was the first “mainstream” Grand Lodge to recognize their Prince Hall counterpart. 1989, 214 years after Prince Hall Masonry began. 125 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. 25 and 24 years respectively after the adoption of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts. But its “not yet time”.
Allow me to ask a rhetorical question then; when IS the right time?
Sixteen men made the decision to not adopt the wish of the membership of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina because “it’s not yet time”. B*** sh**, sixteen men rejected this because they either don’t have the courage to stand up and do the right thing, or they are outright racist. There is no alternative here, its one or the other. The members of this committee can be found on the Grand Lodge website. Men like these are a big reason why Freemasonry is dying. Men like these are either living in the past, or too afraid to stand up and do the right thing. They call themselves Freemasons, but they don’t stand for a single thing the Fraternity does. Look no further than these sixteen men, South Carolina, because until things change, they’ll be holding you back.
It may not be “time” in South Carolina to recognize Prince Hall, but its certainly time to recognize our problems.
- DC Guest -
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