Realizing The Opportunity

Gate City Lodge 2

A printed media distributed over a wide area of Georgia called The Sunday Paper has published a long story on the Gate City Lodge 2 situation titled, “Letting In A Black Man, Atlanta Freemason Lodge Fights For Equality.” The paper tells the story of Victor Marshall the soft spoken Black Army Reservist raised by Gate City 2 who has become the center of a controversy being reported across the nation and to the world.

As we all know now the charges have been dropped but Attorney Brother David Llywellen explains the continuance of the Lodge’s counter suit.

“The apparent lack of foundation for the charges filed against Gate City, as well as a fear of losing their charter, led Bjelajac and Gate City to file a lawsuit in DeKalb County to stop the Grand Lodge of Georgia from taking internal action against the lodge and its leader. Llywellen contends that the Grand Lodge had an obligation to dismiss the charges leveled by Hicks and Etheridge as soon as they were filed. Instead, says Llywellen, the Grand Lodge, including a South Georgia attorney named Franklin Aspinwall, who was to chair the Masonic charges and is named in the suit, violated their contractual obligation to Gate City members by putting their charter in jeopardy based on “spurious” charges. Although the internal charges made by Hicks and Etheridge have been withdrawn, the Gate City Masons want some assurance they will not be subject to similar charges in the future before they withdraw their suit.”

And as The Sunday Paper reports there was also some high level Georgia Masonic support for Gate City 2.

“ The controversy surrounding Gate City Lodge has resulted in two resignations at the state level. David Herman, a member of Gate City Lodge, resigned from his post as district deputy to the Grand Master. ‘As a District Deputy, I must be the Grand Master’s representative; nothing more and nothing less. Yet, as a Freemason, I could not sit on the sideline and be a passive witness to these events. I resigned so that I might stand with my [Gate City] Brethren.’ Gate City fell under the jurisdiction of District Deputy John Holt, an 82-year-old retired machinist and salesman, when Victor Marshall became a Master Mason. Grand Master James Jennings asked Holt to tender his resignation after the controversy broke.”

So far this is a rehash of what most of us know.  But this writer would like to contend that it is the heroic efforts of many Masons across North America in putting pressure on the Grand Lodge of Georgia that has been influential in returning a positive outcome to a divisive and despicable action foretelling enormous consequences.

From Greg Stewart’s breaking fully documented story, My Brother’s Keeper. Open Racism in Georgia Freemasonry,” to my own efforts and articles, to the articles and intercessions of Terence Satchell, we at Freemason Information have been a leader in bringing to you the reader the story in all its components and aspects and to adding our voices  working for an amicable solution based on brotherly love and the virtues of Freemasonry.

“As the drama between Gate City and the Grand Lodge plays out, it is likely to have effects beyond a shake-up of Georgia’s Masonic officers. South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore Lodge No. 220 has petitioned the Grand Lodge of South Dakota to ‘issue a formal, public statement that it will not accept racial or religious intolerance, prejudice, or bigotry in any of its subordinate lodges.’”

Added to this effort of Brother Satchell has been the efforts of Chris Hodapp as reported by The Sunday Paper.

“’It’s humiliating for the rest of the world of Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I contacted my Grand Master and said, ‘If it turns out that these charges go through and if something happens to Gate City Lodge or its members because of it, I would strongly recommend considering withdrawing recognition of Georgia.’”

“Despite the stickiness of the situation, Hodapp feels there are things the Grand Master could do to resolve deeper problems surrounding the Gate City situation. A statement denouncing racism in Georgia Freemasonry would help erase any confusion over the role of race in Georgia Masonry, says Hodapp. The Grand Lodge, he says, could also move to recognize Georgia’s Prince Hall Freemasons. The predominantly African-American group sprang up as a response to the segregation inherent to nearly all social groups in the United States before the mid-20th century, and is recognized by most Grand Lodges in the U.S. Recognition of Prince Hall Masons by Georgia’s Grand Lodge would make Prince Hall Masons welcome at meetings of Masonic Lodges across Georgia and blur the implied color line that comes from having two separate grand lodges in the state.”

There is an opportunity here that already has been seen by some.  That is a chance to move into high gear the breakup of the KKK influence in Southern Freemasonry and the adoption of racial mixing with the recognition of Prince Hall Masonry throughout the region.  If the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Georgia were to issue a proclamation of racial harmony as a policy of the Grand Lodge and if they were to accompany that with Prince Hall recognition they would break the back of racism in Southern Freemasonry and blow wide open the continued discrimination of Blacks and the non recognition of Prince Hall.

If you look historically at important changes in life, of new courses chartered in unfamiliar waters, in most cases you will not see them just sort of falling together of their own free will and accord but rather being driven by an outspoken leader or group who rallies public opinion to the extent of overwhelming all who disagree.

We have just such an opportunity today if many of us will just come out of our little insular Masonic shell and view the Craft in the U.S.A. as one fraternity not 50 different societies.  There is no reason that Freemasons from every region and every state cannot be united in seeking enforcement of certain basic principles of righteousness taking heed of the methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to bring about change and acceptance of basic human and civil rights.  There is no reason today in the Information Age Society in which we live to be restricted from speaking out against human wrongs and working actively for human rights because you belong to another Masonic jurisdiction. Non Masons are going to look at and judge Freemasonry as a whole not selectively differentiating between what the Grand Lodges of Minnesota and Vermont do in contrast to how the Grand Lodges of Georgia and Louisiana operate.

There are other Brothers working in other jurisdictions to bring about peaceful reconciliation. They feed off and are inspired by our support.  If the Grand Lodge of Georgia were to close Gate City Lodge 2 and pull its charter then that would be a setback for development in other jurisdictions, for Grand Masters who seek to keep things as they were 100 years ago would be emboldened. It is the sharing of information and the encouragement we give that can motive those caught in a seemingly hopeless situation to nevertheless continue on. And it is important for all of us in the Fraternity to recognize that we are in the Information Age where ideas are exchanged, information published and discussion made available.  This is no longer your Grandfather’s Chevrolet.

Most important of all is the ability for us to recognize that we are all one.  Californian Masons and Kansas Masons and Michigan Masons and Maryland Masons and South Carolina Masons and Florida Masons and Kentucky Masons and Arkansas Masons and Colorado Masons and Alberta Masons and Ontario Masons and Nova Scotia Masons are all one, all Brothers of the same Three Degrees, all children of God working for the Brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. We are all one.

The story in The Sunday Paper, Letting in a black man – Atlanta Freemason lodge fights for equality, has since been archived and the site disbanded.

Posted in The Bee Hive and tagged , .

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 Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.


  1. I was always under the impression that the KKK was told they were not welcome in the southern Masonic lodges. From this article I may be misinformed.

    At any rate this situation does affect all Masons wheresoever dispersed over the face of the earth. I have always contended that Masonry lost the moral high ground in not being a leader in school desegregation problem back in the 50’s. I think if we were intent on showing what we supposedly believe in, Masonry would have been an effective leader and perhaps we might not have had some of the social upheaval the country experienced.

  2. Where I live, Price Hall Freemasonry has, politely, declined FULL recognition, meaning allowing Price Hall Lodges to allow any Non-Prince Hall Blue Lodge members to simply visit and the reverse. For an AFAM/FAM to visit a Price Hall Lodge here one must ask permission of the Lodge first, and Price Hall Lodges REQUIRE Non-Price Hall Blue Lodges to be asked before a Price Hall Freemason can sit in … additional, Prince Hall Lodges will not accept, as a member, ANY Freemason into more then one Lodge here, be it Price Hall or Non-Prince Hall Blue Lodge … I have tried to join, and we politely declined. Now the question is : Would one give up their initial or usual Lodge and membership to join Prince Hall exclusively?
    Additional: While Price Hall Blue Lodges were separate in our area, York Rite contained Price Hall and Non-Prince Hall Masons, sadly the Price Hall Masons have decided to form a Price Hall York Rite, the reason it is sad? No dual memberships there either … it is saddening to me because I desire to become a dual member of a Price Hall Lodge [I understand some of the meetings and degrees are different] for a few reasons, one of which is to combat some attitudes of one of the Lodges I am a member of ‘I will never sit in a Lodge with a Prince Hall member, I would quit Lodge!’, yes yes they exist, yes yes they talk, yes yes they promote disharmony, yes yes there are those willing to stand against the flow in a single lodge and show against the current.

    Sad, I can’t do it. If I were to join w/o informing the Prince Hall Lodge I am a member of a non-Prince Hall, it would be dishonest, if I were to quit non-Prince Hall, join Prince Hall [assuming they would find me worthy of being a Freemason, I was found worthy once, I can try again :D] and then rejoin a non-Prince Hall Lodge it would be dishonest, all I can think to do is join a Prince Hall [again if they find me worthy] from another state and then see if my state’s Prince Hall would allow me regular visits, but that too would be dishonest …

    Sad the progression of these events. A door once open, swings in both directions.


  3. correcting an error, apparently my n didn’t like my typing in the previous post, and spell checker likes price as well as prince … all references to Price Hall, should read Prince Hall, sorry for the typos … will kick the keyboard later.

  4. Talmont,

    Your comment goes to show that there is not perfection on either side, but I have not claimed such. I am sure there is black racism against whites and that there are Prince Hall Masons who do not wish to associate with Mainstream Masons. There are also mean spirited Prince Hall Masons. This is life.

    So I am not trying to paint a completely rosy picture of one side and a completely negative designation for the other side. What I am saying is that Prince Hall is Regular Freemasonry and not Clandestine and should be recognized. Is it perfect? NO. But it is worthy – and worthy of being included in the American Masonic community of accredited Freemasons.

    As far as Prince Hall goes I have not met with any black backlash or dishonorable behavior against me. I walked into my Prince Hall Grand Session for the first time where I knew practically nobody and nobody knew me and I was welcomed with open arms – and no stares.

    I believe there is one Prince Hall GL that permits dual membership. I’m not sure I remember where it is but something in me wants to say Minnesota.

    Other than that if you join Prince Hall they want you to be only a member of their jurisdiction.

    I left my Mainstream Lodge with no guarantees and was admitted into Prince Hall where I am very happy. If you want to join a Prince Hall Lodge you will have to give up any membership in any other obedience or competing Masonic Body. I had no problem with that but then I am just me. I am not you.

    What I am writing about is recognition not trying to figure out who is the better jurisdiction.

  5. BeeHive,
    Thank you for the response. I am not pointing a racist finger at any direction, I don’t believe the actions of the PHL here are racially motivated, I believe they are motivated to promote race, meaning they are not promoting against a race, they will accept a worthy man disregarding race. But it seems their is a poignant portion to remaining as independent of non-PH Blue Lodges as possible. I am just trying to promote unity in various ways here and finding the rules chaffing. I don’t have the ability to goto a PHL and attempt to join fully, even if I did cut the apron ties here, the closest PHL is over 90 miles, I am not worried if I would be welcomed in a PHL, I know I would. I would simply like to be able to dual member in order to sit in some non-PHL that resist PHL members and try to change the issues.

    I know neither side is the rosy and pristine ‘side’, I was just hoping to be able to change views.

    Thanks again.


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