Black Freemasons?

by George Cannetti
(Oregon, U.S.A.)

I have heard multiple times that Black men are not allowed to join the Freemasons. Care to elaborate?

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Jan 07, 2015
by: Lant

A fair question and I wish there was a simple answer.

Freemasonry is composed of human beings, carrying with them all the problems, fears and foolishness of humanity. Its members come from the society at large. While we are theoretically committed to equality of all men, it's a sad reality that we do not always succeed.

Drop back 200 years. Or 100. Or 50. Open prejudice was common in society, although more so in some places than in others. Colour may still matter to some people today and it is thus quite possible that prejudice still exists in Freemasonry here and there. I would like to think not, but I would be foolish to claim perfection.

Certainly the phenomenon called 'Prince Hall Masonry' shows that prejudice was once pretty blatant. Prince Hall was a black man, made a Mason by a British military lodge in the Revolutionary period. Failing to be accepted by US Masons due to his colour (and perhaps a little bit due to the British connection), Hall and his companions started their own organization, which although ignored by mainstream Masonry, did quite well over the years. Although still not universally accepted, acceptance is growing and hopefully will be universal before too long. PH Masonry, although probably in the majority comprised of black men, accepted others as well.

(In fairness, PHM's perceived lack of legitimacy in the eyes of mainstream Freemasonry has not been entirely racial. Without getting complicated, it is a principle of Masonry that only one organization can hold sway in any given area at a time. As PHM was seen as violating this jurisdictional principle, acceptance became still more difficult.)

Back to the matter at hand. In mainstream Masonry, as noted, attitudes depended on societal norms and perceptions. Blacks were much more likely to find acceptance in places where prejudice was less strong such as Europe and Canada, than in, say, the southern USA.

Freemasonry has generally been if anything more progressive than society around it. Not perfect, but ahead of the curve, so to speak. Religion, which used to be a major divisive issue until not that long ago, has not been such a big deal in the Craft at any time that I know of.

As the selection process for a man to join permits a few, sometimes even one, members to block an application, it doesn't take a lot of bias. While things were bad and are still not perfect, as society changes, so does Freemasonry.

So, bottom line. Racial prejudice has indeed been an issue, more so in some places than in others. It is everywhere less of an issue now and in most places it is not an issue at all these days. My own lodge has members of at least four religions and every possible skin colour - happy about that. It's how things are supposed to be.

Long answer to a simple question, but there it is.

Jan 08, 2015
Black Freesons
by: Fred

When posting, people should state the jurisdiction that they are with, as in manysituations have changed. In the United States, in the1700s and 1800s, black men could not join mainstream Freemasonry because of a requirement of a man being "free born", although this was not meant to exclude blacks, as iy was a common requirement, it exceluded black men in the United States. In the 1700s, a slave, named Prince Hall was indeed made a mason, and through his affiliation, allowed black men to join the craft. Prince Hall masons were not recognized by mainstream grand lodges until recdntly, as certain differences in the Constitutions of both were rectified. Now Prince Hall Grand Lodges, lodges and members are recognized by their mainstream counterparts, in most jurisdictions. Many mainstream lodges have black members.

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