Arkansas Prince Hall Grand Master Cleveland Wilson Takes The High Road

We don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.
Steve Goodier

Life’s like the piano and the violin, it’s about how smart you could play the melodies to make a good harmony.
Lucy ‘Aisy

Grand Master Cleveland Wilson

Grand Master Cleveland Wilson

The lessons of life often come hard. It takes years and a lot of hurt sometimes to “get it.” And it takes a giant of a human being to “let go.”

Such a man is Arkansas Prince Hall Grand Master Cleveland Wilson.

I know. I have talked with him face to face many times.

The easy way out is to wag your finger, to wall yourself up in your own little world, to bunker down and say the hell with everybody else. But that’s not the way of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is universal and a light unto the world. Even when there is contention where no contention should exist, Freemasonry can heal the darker side of man if you will just listen to its message.

Grand Master Cleveland Wilson is listening. He knows the true meaning of Freemasonry. And so he is going to take the high road and to be out front as a healer and practitioner of peace.

That’s why Grand Master Wilson has issued a proclamation that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas will recognize all and every legitimate Bodies of Free and Accepted Masons who recognize Prince Hall wheresoever dispersed across the face of the globe. Whether that Body recognizes the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas or not, it doesn’t matter.

42 states now recognize Prince Hall. Very few  of them recognize Prince Hall Arkansas. Now Prince Hall Arkansas recognizes them all.

Here is the way I see the thinking of Grand Master Wilson.

We’re going to love you whether or not you love us back. It’s the 21st century. We are moving on. We are not going to be about conflict, contention or competition with anybody. We’re into what Freemasonry is all about – peace and harmony.

Now that’s a man who “gets it,” who has “let go.”  That’s a great Mason who is taking the high road.

The text of note, at the end of the document, saying:

BE IT RESOLVED, that it shall be the policy of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas to recognize and offer to enter into fraternal relations with any all Grand Lodges which (1) hold a seat in the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, Inc. and (2) have entered into an agreement, treaty, or compact or recognition with the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge who is a member of the Conference of Grand Masters of Prince Hall Masons, Inc. in their respective state, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that policy shall be made effective 22, February 2014.

Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 1

 Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 2

Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 3Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 4

 You can view the original Prince Hall of Arkansas Recognition Letter here.

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About Fred Milliken

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and former Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

Comments

  1. Larry W. Chavis, PM says:

    M.:W.:G.:M.:Wilson has done a noble thing. As a member of one of ‘the nine’ jurisdictions, I can only pray that our leaders will soon show like nobility.

  2. Jim Goltz says:

    This is the kind of man who made me want to be a Freemason in the first place.

  3. The MWPHGL of Georgia sent letters of recognition out to every “Mainstream” jurisdiction and many foreign jurisdictions many years ago.. They received the usual “patronizing” letter with the exception of a few letters of recognition from the GLs of Australia.
    The MW. Union GL of Florida did the same with a letter recognizing their Mainstream counterpart a few years ago, only to be disrespected with no response at all. We will see if there will be some sort of respect with a letter in return, or the same convenient ETJ issue will come up.
    The descendants of African American slaves have practiced REGULAR Freemasonry for many years.. We will see what type of response will come forward, or will that head of “Racism” will pop her head up once again…

  4. I am certainly in favor of coming to an amicable resolution, but I am unsure how to reconcile jurisdictional authority when two or more authoritative bodies occupy the same geographical territory? Who has ultimate authority? It is a noble and worthy goal to work for harmony in coexistence, but in the end, there must be a final authority, otherwise conflict is inevitable anf largely irreconcilable.

  5. This makes me very proud to be a member of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas! !!

  6. Grand Master Wilson, is a dear friend and Masonic Gentleman in whom I have known for many years. What he has undertaken is the high and noble road in Freemasonry. No one is an island into themselves. When we over look and de-appreciate the rights of regular freemasons we have in fact threaded upon the 14th Landmark in which no Mason has the right to do. We should continue to make wrong right within our masonic circles as Grand Master Wilson has done and I too for many years in Louisiana and Texas. Fraternally, Hon. Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden,FPS,FPC(H-Life), President Emeritus- The Phylaxis Society

  7. Kenneth L. Miles says:

    Momma always said respect your elders even when things are wrong or right I listen to any elder that shows me the path to success Bless them who shows this path that has been laid before us moving forward…

  8. Mark M. says:

    This is a great thing for Freemasonry as a whole. I am proud to be under the leadership of such a great and good man. Grand Master Wilson and this jurisdiction is speaking out and stating that the lessons of Freemasonry are alive and well in Arkansas.

  9. This is a reply to Jim

    QUOTE: I am certainly in favor of coming to an amicable resolution, but I am unsure how to reconcile jurisdictional authority when two or more authoritative bodies occupy the same geographical territory? Who has ultimate authority? It is a noble and worthy goal to work for harmony in coexistence, but in the end, there must be a final authority, otherwise conflict is inevitable anf largely irreconcilable.

    Paul Bessel writes about the Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction which is what you are alluding to Jim:

    What does this doctrine really say? The most influential American group dealing with this subject is the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America. The [p. 230] Commission has existed since 1952, making recommendations on standards for recognition as well as specific suggestions about whether grand lodges in North America should or should not recognize each foreign grand lodge.74 The Commission’s definition of the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is different from what most masons think it is.

    There can be no question about Exclusive Jurisdiction. It is a basic principle that a Grand Lodge must be autonomous and have sole and undisputed authority over its constituent Lodges. This cannot be shared with any other Masonic council or power. But the question of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is not so clear cut. In some European and Latin American countries, a geographical or politically self-contained unit may be served by two or more Grand Lodges. If these Grand Lodges and hence their constituent Lodges are working in amity, and both are worthy of recognition in all other respects, this joint occupation of a country, state or political subdivision should not bar them from recognition.75 (Emphasis added)

    So it’s OK with the Council of Grand Masters if two or more Lodges exist side by side within a state as long as they have permission from each other so to do. What is forbidden is for a Grand Lodge to set up shop in a state without asking permission and to become a Masonic raider. That is not allowed.

  10. For some more from Paul Bessel, Jim:

    To the extent that Masons are aware of the “doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction,” most believe it means that there can only be one regular, recognized Grand Lodge in each State of the United States and in each other country, that every lodge in any U.S. State or foreign country must belong to the one Grand Lodge in that jurisdiction, and that every regular Grand Lodge adheres to this important policy and has done so for a long time.

    This belief has real results. For example, some Masons believe that because of the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction, it is not Masonically legal for any Grand Lodge to recognize a Prince Hall Grand Lodge, as there would then be two recognized Grand Lodges in the same state. Some also believe that this doctrine prohibits any Grand Lodge from recognizing two or more Grand Lodges in any country, such as France where there are several Grand Lodges, more than one of which is “regular” in the sense of following the same basic landmarks that we do.

    However, according to expert Masonic authorities the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction does not mean what most Masons think it means. It has never really been in full effect, certainly not in the great majority of places around the world, and not even in the United States. Yet the existence of this doctrine, or of what Masons think the doctrine is, causes problems and may be more harmful than helpful. It has been in the process of disappearing for a while, and it might be helpful for Masonry as a whole to consider whether it should or should not be adhered to now, even in theory.

    It has already been mentioned that most think the doctrine means, as Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia says, that “there can be but one recognized Grand Lodge in a state and that it must have exclusive territorial jurisdiction therein.” However, the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons of North America has defined the doctrine in a very different way.

    If these Grand Lodges and hence their constituent Lodges are working in amity, and both are worthy of recognition in all other respects, this joint occupation of a country, state or political subdivision should not bar them from recognition.”(31) (emphasis added)

    In other words, the Commission on Information for Recognition has said that the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction means that all the Lodges chartered by a particular Grand Lodge give their loyalty only to that Grand Lodge, but there can be lodges chartered by different Grand Lodges in the same territory. There can be several Grand Lodges in a single geographic territory, all with many lodges under them, so long as each lodge gives its loyalty to only one Grand Lodges, and the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is not violated, according to the 1975 statement by the Commission on Information for Recognition as reported and accepted by the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America.

    It should be noted that the Commission said this applies where Grand Lodges in the same territory are “in amity,” and repeated this in 1986, saying, “The Commission recognizes that the American doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is subject to exceptions, one of which is an agreement on the part of the Grand Lodge located in a territory that another Grand Lodge may operate within that territory.”

    http://bessel.org/exclartl.htm

  11. And in reply to Ralph:

    The MWPHGLAR did not send out letters and is not on a campaign to get recognition from Mainstream Grand Lodges. That’s why it acted in the manner that it did.

    The MWPHGLAR is saying to those states that recognize Prince Hall in their states but do not recognize Prince Hall of Arkansas because the Mainstream GL of Arkansas refuses to recognize Prince Hall – look we know you don’t recognize us but we are recognizing you.

    This was done in this manner not so much to try to get Mainstream recognition, although Prince Hall Arkansas would not turn that down, but to act Masonically by offering the peace pipe – to take the high road and to take such actions as to build the inner temple of all the Masons in Arkansas.

  12. Fred,
    The PHGL of Georgia did the same.. Wrote to all the GLs that recognized their PHA counterparts along with the other GLs who did not. A lot of movin’ and shakin’ during PGM Willie Williams tenure….

  13. A kind Brother pointed this out to me:

    From Paul Bessel:

    It is reported that the following Grand Lodges have “blanket” recognition of all Prince Hall Grand Lodges that are recognized by their corresponding “mainstream” Grand Lodge (with dates when this was reportedly done). I have not been able to check to verify this, except where noted below.

    Illinois – 2002
    Connecticut – 2002
    Nebraska – 2002
    Colorado – 2002
    Washington – 2002
    Idaho – 2003
    Washington DC – May 12, 2004
    Hawaii – April 29, 2005 (?)
    Connecticut – October 2005
    New Hampshire – May 20, 2006
    Montana
    Nevada – November 2008

    http://bessel.org/masrec/phablanket.htm

  14. W.: Jeffrey B. says:

    Men have been denied membership in “regular” lodges because of their race, using the excuse that they are descended from slaves and thus cannot be free men. These men sought Light and found it elsewhere BECAUSE WE FORCED THEM TO. We drove them to their own system, now we further deny them because of it.

  15. Bruce Alan Wilson says:

    Go far enough back in almost anyone’s ancestry and you’ll find slaves. That objection falls as soon as it is raised.

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