What I have been prognosticating I am now seeing come to pass. I said that if Mainstream Masonry didn't straighten out its act and get rid of the racism and accept black men and Prince Hall as regular Masonry then the new generation will not join Masonry or if they join they will not stay. I said today's young men are color blind and will not put up with those who are not. I said Mainstream Freemasonry would lose thousands and thousands of petitions for the degrees from bright, sharp, upstanding young men.
Not long ago on a place of Masonic discussion I conversed with a Tennesse Brother. Later he E-Mailed me and has given me permission to let you all see what he privately said to me.
Brother Milliken, I thank you for your reply to my post on
recognition. I did not take them as criticism and I am glad that my
post has started some good conversations about this topic. My
original post was due to having been told by a brother that there are
no African Americans in the Tennessee lodges and not to bring any to
the lodge to petition for membership. I was told that they have their
own lodge and we have ours and that was that. Well, not being raised
that way I started to ask questions and got the same answers. The
reason that it came back up to me is that I received an announcement
that there will be a cave degree and, I noticed at the bottom of
the announcement it stated that the Tennessee GL dose not recognize
the Prince Hall Lodge. That stuck in my craw. Then after that, I
found out that an African American man had been discouraged form
joining our lodge. I have heard of several good masons quitting our
lodge due to this and, I am thinking about doing the same. My
original thought was to stay in and try to change it but, I think the
odds are stacked against me. I and another MM are in the process of
figuring out what we are going to do. I do hate hypocrisy.
We E-Mailed back and forth some more and I told him my story. In a followup E-Mail he told me this:
It is interesting that you should mention that you demitted from Mainstream Masonry and joined Prince Hall. A friend and I who are going through the officer seats have been talking about the racism problem in our Grand Lodge and our Lodge and, that is one of the reasons that I am leaving the seats. I have also been talking about Demitting and joining Prince Hall. I have only met one Brother from the Prince Hall Lodge and I am trying to get back in touch with him. Be it as it may, there is a time to take a stand and this is the time.
Then about two weeeks later I received an E-Mail from a well known East Coast Brother who informed me that he is also thinking about leaving Mainstream Masonry and joining Prince Hall. HIs name and state are withheld as he has yet to make that decision and that announcement is his to make.
While many states have improved their past civil rights record and now openly welcome black men to petition for the degrees and have Recognized Prince Hall, there are a number that leave a lot to be desired. I think of what expelled PGM Frank Haas from West Virginia said, "What one state does, one Grand Lodge, affects us all."
Then I remember Frank Haas' lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia who asked the courts to throw it out as The Grand Grand Lodge of West Virginia had sole power over the decisions and discipline of its Jurisdiction, a private organization. And the Courts said, NO! They refused to throw out the lawsuit. The trial goes on.
And my friends remind me of the other things I keep saying as they reach for earplugs - "That if Mainstream Freemasonry does not learn how to police itself, then somebody else, like the government, will do it for them." And right now the government is knee deep into West Virginia Freemasonry.
The Good 'Ol Boys Network and the unwritten code that one Grand Lodge never critisizes another has perpetuated much that should not be in American Freemasonry. I think back to a comparision with baseball, to the 1919 Black Sox scandal and how baseball finally got themselves a Baseball Commissioner, Judge Landis, because a certain few selfish owners would do whatever they wanted to the detriment of the sport. The good owners, concerned for the good name of the game, finally demanded that these totally private enterprises conform to a set of rules and ethics and discipline. So why can't Freemasonry do that?
And the last thing that my friends are really tired of hearing me say has not come true, - that someday an enterprising writer or news reporter would do a feature story or article on racism in Freemasonry and spread it across the pages of a well read publication for all the world to see. The thought of that happening makes me sad.
But what really makes me cry is Brother X and others who are just not going to put up with it anymore but just leave. It is a very sad day when you lose a Brother from Freemasonry, a bright and ethical young man who was a credit to his Craft. It really doesn't have to be that way.