Monday, October 23, 2006

Race and Freemasonry

An interesting piece from the AP on racial tensions, particularly in the Deep South between white and black Masons. A quotation:

Nationwide, Masonic groups operate in a separate-but-supposedly-equal system in which whites typically join one network of Masonic groups, called Grand Lodges, and blacks typically join another, called Prince Hall. But in the South, it goes further: White-controlled Grand Lodges in 12 Southern states do not even officially recognize black Masons as their brothers — the Masonic term is "mutual recognition" — and in some cases, black lodges have taken similar stands. Masons have quietly debated race relations for years, and the issue is increasingly coming into public view.

The article goes on to say that the first mutual recognition occurred in 1989 (Conn.) and then 37 other states have followed suite. Black and white Masonic lodges had been separate since (at least) the Revolutionary War.

And depending on the area, interesting differences emerge. From the article:

This fall, white Masons in North Carolina refused to grant recognition to Prince Hall Masons. The vote was 681 for recognition and 404 against — just short of the two-thirds majority required, according to Ric Carter, editor of the state's Masonic newspaper. Black Masons in North Carolina granted recognition of white Masons in 2004.

But elswhere:

The head of Prince Hall Masons in Arkansas, Cleveland Wilson, said neither black nor white groups there have discussed mutual recognition. Extending Masonic brotherhood would be nice, he said, "but we're fine without them." "I'm of the attitude that since they haven't shown any interest, I'm not interested either," Wilson said.


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