I had been home only three days from the Arkansas Prince Hall Grand Session when it was time to turn around and go back to the place whence I came. So at 3:00 AM on 3/4/10 I headed out from home back to Arkansas. Nellybelle knew her way by heart now and we even stopped at the same IHOP in Texarkana. After revitalizing my protoplasm I hit the road for the Grand Lodge of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas, arriving at 9:00 AM, just in time to walk in on the opening Phylaxis/Phyllis ceremonies.
The 37th Annual Phylaxis Society Convention and the 27th Annual Phyllis Chapter Convention opened together with each presenting a Memorial Service for those members who joined the Celestial Lodge above in 2009.
After which we all adjourned to freshen up and reconvene for a field trip the rest of the day. Two charter buses took us all to Little Rock a trip of about 40 miles. First stop was the Clinton Presidential Library. Pictures of that visit will be presented in a separate post.
Next we went to the Mosaic Templars Association; the website of this organization provides an explanation of this organization which was entirely new to me.
“The Mosaic Templars organization, founded by John E. Bush and Chester Keatts in Little Rock in 1883, had been established primarily to provide burial and life insurance and other services to its members, which were few in the beginning. In addition to the fraternal lodges, the Templars started the Mosaic National Building and Loan Association in 1884. The organization continued expanding its fraternal organization by adding chapters in other states, and through steady growth in the next decade had amassed sufficient capital assets to construct the headquarters building at 9th and Broadway. By the 1920’s the 2nd Floor of the Mosaic Temple Building housed offices for the Mosaic Templars; H. A. Powell, Dentist; F. C. Goodwin, Dentist; Dr. J. Z. Barguh and Dr. J. M. Robinson; North Carolina Mutual Life Ins Co.; W. A. Singfield, Lawyer; and Standard Life Insurance Co.”
“The Mosaic Templars National Headquarters Building was constructed between 1911 and 1913 and is still located at the southwest corner of 9th and Broadway Streets. The building embodies the history of the organization and black community in Little Rock. It connects this urban experience to other Arkansas towns as well as 26 states and six foreign countries through the Templars’ myriad programs, political, business and leadership networks.”
“The economic effect and example set by the Mosaic Templars were felt throughout the state, the nation, and beyond. By the 1920s the organization was noticed as one of the largest black-owned business enterprises in the world. The organization and its membership services had not only extended to the urban and rural statewide black population, but had also evolved to reach people around the globe. As it grew, the Templars organization served 100,000 members at various times. The Mosaic Templars also operated a business and loan association, a newspaper (The Mosaic Guide) and printing plant, a hospital and nurses training center, and other successful enterprises like the Mosaic Apartments, located on the second floor of their state Temple headquarters at 906 Broadway.”
“In addition to the organization’s remarkable feats in industry, particularly between the 1890s and the 1930s, one of the most important results of Mosaic Templars’ self-help initiatives was that through the programs and services offered, black people were able to receive marketable skills training that would have otherwise been unavailable. In the History of the Mosaic Templars of America – Its Founders and Officials, authors Bush and Dorman state that by 1924 the Endowment Department, with approximately 20 employees processed the organization’s entire volume of business; i.e. $475,000 annual income, $250,000 annual death loss claims paid in 1924. Hundreds of jobs were afforded throughout the Mosaic system.” (1)
The final stop on our Little Rock tour was a brief glimpse of the infamous Central High School of Little Rock. I was struck by its large size and beautiful architecture. It looked more like a college campus than a high school. Unfortunately we did a drive by which didn’t afford me the opportunity to take any pictures except through the bus window.
Upon arriving home we all headed back to our hotels. That night the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas received the Phylaxis Society in a formal Lodge visitation ceremony.