The Hour Glass

The Hour Glass

African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York 1812-2012
By Ezekiel M.Bey

A Review by:  Wor.  Bro. Frederic L. Milliken

Talented Prince Hall Masonic authors and writers are not as plentiful as grapes on the vine. So when one comes along we need to take notice and pay close attention to his works. Such a man is Ezekiel M. Bey whose latest book is “The Hour Glass, African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York 1812-2012.” The Hour Glass records the sands of time in the life of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, the great men therein who shaped the world to come and the part Bey has played and continues to play in the development of Prince Hall Freemasonry in New York and the nation.

Ezekiel Bey is a writer, a Historian and a poet all rolled into one. He combines that unusual dual talent of being a great researcher and historian and a great writer at the same time. Bey is no esoteric closet intellectual, however. He is a Past Master and has served on the Grand Lodge Committee on Works & Lecture, the Committee on Masonic Education where he spent some time as Secretary and the office of Grand Historian from 2006-20011. He is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and has spent 10 years on its Commission on Bogus Masonry much of that time as its Deputy Director. At the same time he has served as editor in chief of his Grand Lodge’s publication, The Sentinel until 2008.

One of Bey’s pride and joys is the nationwide E-Group Blue Lite which he founded. A Prince Hall discussion and educational undertaking it has blossomed into one of the most active gatherings of Masons on the Internet. Recently he has added the Prince Hall Research & Information site Blue-

Ezekiel M. Bey

Ezekiel Bey has paid his dues. Now all that blood, sweat and tears – that hard work and dedication and honing of skills – has culminated in a fascinating work of Masonic history, The Hour Glass.

The Hour Glass begins where every other Prince Hall Masonic book doesn’t, with the Haitian Revolution, the revolt of African American slaves from 1791-1804. The connection here is by way of Freemason Jean Pierre Boyer who was to become the second President of Haiti. Sometime during this conflict when the US and France were fighting the Franco-American War he, and all the others on his French vessel, was captured by the American war ship Trumball and brought back to Connecticut as a prisoner of war. Discovering him to be a Mason they gave him a modem of freedom and then sent him to Pennsylvania where he was ultimately set free. Boyer who attended some Lodges while he was in Pennsylvania seems to have had a profound effect on all he came in contact with as New York’s first African American Lodge, African Lodge #459 New York chartered by African Lodge #459 Boston in 1812 soon changed its name to Boyer Lodge #1. After assuming the Presidency of Haiti Boyer welcomed a migration of freed Black Americans to his country.

Bey then takes us through the Underground Railroad and the part that early New York African American Freemasons played in that historical time after which there is a detailed account of the false information that the first African American Grand Lodge in New York was Boyer Grand Lodge supposedly formed in 1845. Upon due research Bey confirms that the first African American Grand Lodge in New York was The United Grand Lodge of the State of New York formed in 1848 which later changed its name to The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

Next comes the painful experience of the National Grand Lodge or Compact as it was called. It was extremely stressful for New York as the United Grand Lodge of the State of New York never joined the Compact and its failure to do so resulted in the Compact attempting to expel the United Grand Lodge. Within Prince Hall Freemasonry the whole National Grand Lodge episode is a sore that will not heal. Remnants of the National Compact remain today but they are clandestine as many would say they always have been. While Mainstream Masonry also flirted with a National Grand Lodge at the same time it never pulled the trigger. Bey has contended that the whole National venture was illegal and he takes the reader through the steps of how this all came about.  The documentation he provides on the history of New York African American Freemasonry at this time and New York’s involvement with the Compact is outstanding. Any historian who would like to have a better understanding of this issue should refer to The Hour Glass.

What follows is a wealth of information on clandestine African American Freemasonry in New York. Bey takes us through the Committee on Clandestine Masonry and The Legal Committee reports at Grand Lodge Sessions 1954-1969. We learn who the players are, the measures taken by the MWPHGLNY to combat bogus Freemasonry and even about a court case filed against two bogus New York Masonic Grand Lodges.

From the 1962 report of the Legal Committee to the Grand Lodge:

Litigation was commenced against two of these spurious organizations in New York State about three years ago. In November of 1961, there was a trial involving your Grand Lodge and one of these spurious organizations. In January of this year, injunctive relief was secured against this organization known as the Supreme Council of the United States of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd and Last Degree A.A. Scottish Rite. This was the first case of its kind in the State of New York, in which injunctive relief was granted to a Masonic organization, giving it the right to put the spurious organization out of business. Moreover, the decision specifically stated that Prince Hall Masonry was legitimate and that it had a prior or better right to practice Masonry as against the organization which was enjoined. Your Legal Committee reports that this organization is now out of business.

Bey has continued in the footsteps of Harry A Williamson and Joseph Walkes in association with the Phylaxis Society in educating the Craft and those seeking membership about the evils of Bogus Freemasonry. This remains a continuing battle against ignorance. The Hour Glass exposes each and every one of these clandestine organizations, names names, dates and places, for all to see.

No story would be complete without heroes. Bey, in addition to his mentor Joseph Walkes, chronicles the lives and contributions to Prince Hall Freemasonry of RW Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Harry A Williamson and S. David Bailey.

Schomburg, a native of Puerto Rico, was a promoter of Spanish speaking Lodges within Prince Hall New York. He was a researcher, historian, writer and accumulator of many Masonic books and manuscripts. In 1911 with John A. Bruce he formed the Negro Society for Research. Schomburg was elected Grand Secretary in 1918 and served in that position through 1926.

Bey tells us:

Schomburg saved every bit of information that he could get his hands on and built an archive in which he donated to public libraries. He is the reason that today Freemasonry and the black struggle in America have a huge section in the New York City Public Library in Harlem. This spirit of saving information for our future influenced his good friend and Brother, R.W. Harry A. Williamson, Grand Historian of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. It was Arthur Schomburg who encouraged Williamson to place his collection of over 800 books, manuscripts, photographs, periodicals, pamphlets, and scrapbooks in the N.Y.C. Public Library’s Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints.

By the year 1925, Schomburg had acquired over 5,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, etchings and many other items. When the Division of Negro Literature opened in the New York City Public Library on 135th Street in Harlem, Schomburg sold his collection for $10,000 to the Carnegie Corporation to be placed in the new library. Schomburg later became curator for the library in 1932 in the Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints. In memory of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the New York City Public Library in Harlem was renamed in 1973, “The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture”.

Another giant of Prince Hall New York that Bey writes about was Harry A Williamson. Grand Historian from 1911 through 1924 Williamson held many Grand Lodge offices including Senior Grand Warden and Deputy Grand Master and chaired many Grand Lodge Committees. He was a prolific writer and was an early crusader against Bogus Freemasonry in the state of New York.

The third legend from Prince Hall New York was S. David Bailey an accomplished jazz percussionist. Bey tells us that he had:

collaborations with most of the Ellington Alumni, such as Mercer Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Ben Webster, “Shorty” Baker, and Al Sears. David Bailey also played with Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer, Miles Davis, Chris Conner, Billie Holiday, Marian McPartland, Lucky Thompson, Lena Horn, Harry Bellefonte and the Gerry Mulligan Band(s) for 13 years until 1968 when he left to join the newly formed “Jazztet” featuring Art Farmer, Benny Golson,

But Bailey had another love – flying. Again we learn from Bey:

From 1968 to 1973, David worked with famed criminal attorney F. Lee Bailey as Vice President of Marshfield Aviation in Marshfield Airport, Massachusetts, 20 miles south of Boston. As Chief Pilot and flight instructor, and the attorney’s personal pilot, David flew the business Learjet in and out of Logan International Airport in Boston. Dave was also a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA in Boston as he was in New York. David enjoyed a good professional relationship and warm friendship with F. Lee Bailey.

But in a strange twist of career paths Bailey returned to his first love when he became Executive Director of Jazzmobile.

In Prince Hall Freemasonry Bailey became a District Deputy and his efforts in Masonic Instruction and Masonic Education became renowned. He headed up the first Grand Lodge Committee on Education and now 86 years old he can look back upon an illustrious Masonic career of 60 years.

It is difficult to know where you are going unless you know where you have been. The Hour Glass will prove to be a most valuable work for Prince Hall New York Masons to remember where they have been and to honor and treasure the memories of those who have gone before them.

It is vitally imperative that within the Craft records and archives are kept to show a clear path of what Freemasonry has stood for and what it has withstood throughout its history. Ezekiel Bey has been meticulous and detailed in his research for this book. The Hour Glass is both interesting and informative.

Not shy in expressing himself, Bey writes with a passion that jumps out at you from the pages of his book. His love for the Craft comes through loud and clear.

Moreover, Bey blazes a trail that other Prince Hall Grand Lodges should take. A chronicling of the history of any Grand Lodge casts in stone what defines that Masonic community and it is by such a work as this that a Grand Lodge can tackle the future with a mission statement in hand.

This is a monumental work that will be on every library shelf and in many a Mason’s bookcase. It should be in yours also.

Don’t Mess With Texas!

South Central Guild #3

“We’re the best in Texas, yes we are.”  “They come to watch us from afar.” (or something like that)

Left, left, left, right, left…to the right – MARCH…Halt, one, two…Right face…about face…forward march… to the rear march…

Such was a tiny micro example of the precision marching of the Lone Star Guild Drill Teams that I witnessed at Prince Hall Texas’ recent York Rite Conclave. Now I know of men’s Knight Templar drill teams but I have never heard of or seen women within Freemasonry performing within drill teams. Then again I haven’t been a York Rite member or a Prince Hall Mason for a long time either.

Bro. Frederic L. Milliken with Two South Central #39 Guild Members

Bro. Frederic L. Milliken with Two South Central #39 Guild Members

I don’t know for sure but I’m going to bet that my Mainstream Brethren have never heard of this. But it does go to show what a Masonic family is all about. In Prince Hall’s it means meeting with the female Bodies in the same building at the same time and coming together for some common functions and some good times. Luncheons, banquets, social mixers, yearly allocutions, awards ceremonies and installations are gender mixed. This builds a strong bond between the men’s side and the women’s side. And it provides strong cross support going both ways.

The Lone Star Guild Drill Teams Performances was one more thing that brought the

Prince Hall Family together. And it was a real morale booster. I left feeling really inspired and confident that my fraternity was going to do great things in the future. This sense of solidarity is a vital component of a healthy, growing, motivational Freemasonry and one that should be emulated elsewhere.

Grand Princess Captain R. Lucille Samuel was responsible for the creation of the Texas Guild’s drill teams and she will further educate us on how they came about and what they do.





In February of 2006 I was elected as the Grand Princess Captain of the Lone Star Grand Guild of Texas.  It was not until 2008 when I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina that I came up with an idea.  At the Annual International Grand Encampment and International Grand Court of Cyrene Crusaders Session I saw men and women Drill Team competitions.  At the time the Right Eminent Grand Commander of Texas, Tony M. Moore had a men’s drill team.  There were only two members at this time but they stole the show.

Being a Retired Army Veteran I thought this could be a piece of cake as well as so much fun for the Guilds to compete in Texas.  Little did I know we would go on to the International Session and bring home 1st Place 2 years continuously.

When I returned to Texas, I sent out an email with the Drill Guidelines to all the Princess Captains and Special Deputies.  Each Guild Drill Team was to perform at the 2009 Grand Conclave in Killeen, Texas.  The Drill Team that competed was South Central Guild #39 of Killeen, Texas.  We were the host for the International Grand Encampment that year in Ft Worth, Texas.  South Central Guild placed first and became the 2009 International Grand Champions.

In 2010 we had two more Drill Teams to emerge at the Texas Grand Conclave in Houston giving us a total of 3.  They were Heart of Texas #38 of Temple Texas, South Central Guild #39 of Killeen, Texas, R. Lucille Samuel Guild #41 of Waxahachie, Texas.  At the International Session in Memphis, Tennessee all 3 Guilds placed.  4th Place R. Lucille Guild #41, 3rd Place South Central Guild #39 of Killeen, Texas and the 2010 International Grand Drill Team Champions Heart of Texas Guild #38!

In 2011 because there were no Teams Registered for competition in Baton Rouge, Heart of Texas Guild #38 remain the reigning International Grand Champions.

In February 2012 these 3 Drill Teams met again at our Texas Annual Grand Conclave in Dallas.  South Central Guild #39 (Valiant Ladies) are the Texas State Champs once again!

As you can see each Drill Team is unique in their own uniforms and styles of Drill and Entertainment.  It takes a lot of hard work, practice and dedication to ensure each member of the Drill Team is on the same step and beat as the others.  The Drill Teams have been watched and evaluated by myself and other Veterans or Sir Knights.  It is a competition but the most important thing is that they perform together as “ONE”.

The Drill Team Competition not only brings notoriety throughout the State and Nation but it gives these ladies a sense of pride and builds their self-esteem to compete in public.  It builds camaraderie among the Guild members and hopefully will encourage other members to form Drill Teams for their Guilds.  We have 12 Guilds in the state of Texas.  I am very proud of each and every member.  It is my dream that one day each Guild will have their own Drill Team.   “DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!”

Please do not hesitate to contact Grand Princess Captain Samuel at and tell her what you think.

Of Revolutions & Reforms, A Revisit

Once in awhile it behooves all of us to go backward instead of forward, to look back on what we said or what we did years ago and see if it still rings true today. I did that just recently with an article I wrote for Masonic Traveler in 2007 titled Of Revolutions And Reforms. I wasn’t part of the Freemason Information team then. I was on my own with “The Beehive” my own personal blog.

What is so cool here is that Greg Stewart gives the article an introduction as I am an outsider at the time and this is his blog and at the end there are a number of comments. To see these remarks along with the article adds a flavor and an insight that makes it all worthwhile to – do it all over again. So here goes.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Of Revolutions and Reforms

I had received this last week. It is a position paper of sorts that really looks at the present state and disposition of modern masonry and offers some insight to how we might effect some change.I think it’s a very good paper and offers much by way of food for thought.The only thing facing us from the abyss at this point is change. Change is and will be an absolute condition we need to address, and sooner rather than later.Is it by radical means, or by attrition? Is it a positive decisive change or is it something foist upon us?

The choice is ours, right now, what the future of Freemasonry will look like.

But enough of my opinion, the paper I present here is from Bro. Frederic L. Milliken who hails from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, specifically from Pride of Mt. Pisgah Lodge #135, Dallas, Texas. His outlook is succinct though as he is a Past Master from the “regular” Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Before you read it, keep this quote in mind from the Freemason Samuel Clemons, aka mark Twain.

No people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed must being in blood, whatever may answer afterward.
Mark Twain – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

I would be very curious to know what you think about this.

Of Revolutions and Reforms
by Bro. Frederic L. Milliken

I have been thinking about the subject we have been discussing here, and that is how best to be effective in bringing about new life, new growth, new vitality to our Lodges and most of all reforms and a new course for our Grand Lodges. How can we as individuals best influence the course that our Lodges and Grand Lodges pursue?

The remedy has been proposed that we need to work harder, get involved, run for a Grand Lodge office, rise to some prominence and power and then work to change the system from within. If you are not in the system you can’t change it and if you don’t work hard to change it you shouldn’t complain or expect it to change – no work, no effort no gain.

I would like to amplify what has been said to more fully explain why I think this won’t work. Let’s explore some finer points and expand on the concepts and see if there are other ramifications and possibilities.

First of all for most men Masonry is a pleasurable part time past time, a hobby or interest but not a full time occupation. Nor can most men make it a full time concern. They may work long hours at a demanding job; they may have children who need their time and guidance; their wives may work and therefore they have to contribute to the management of the household and the care of their family including things like grocery shopping, cooking some meals, washing some clothes and driving the kids where they need to go. They may have responsibilities at their house of worship. They may have an aging parent who either lives with them and needs constant care and attention or who lives apart in quarters where they need to be checked up on constantly.

I say all this because what gets in the way of Masonry is life. Quite frankly many men may enjoy coming to Lodge and participating in some of the activities and rituals of the Lodge, but that does not mean they have the time or inclination to spend enormous amounts of time and effort to reform a system that has lost its way and needs a complete overhaul.

I can remember when I first entered Masonry they told me it was only going to be one night a week. Then I joined an Appendant Body and that added another night, then I became an officer and that added another night, then I became a Warden and then a Master and it became almost every night. That “just one night a week” became a lot more than that. But what are you asking of a man who just wants to enjoy his Masonry? Are you expecting him to devote 20-40 hours per week for the Craft? Let’s be realistic here, let’s be practical.

If I were to start worshiping at a new church and its management were to come to me and say we have only one Pastor who is overworked and we need more people to help with the liturgy and worship service, and we don’t have enough Sunday school teachers and we could use more, and we don’t have anybody to clean the church and no money to pay anybody to do that job, and our Secretary is quitting because she says her salary is too low and we sure could use some help with mowing our lawns and do you cook at all sir? Now I am going to say, “Hey wait a minute, I have come to your church to worship God, not to toil away for hours without compensation.” And the reply would come back, “If you can’t help the church be a great church by donating time, treasure and talent, then there just won’t be any church here for you to worship in.”

See where we are here? That’s where we are in Masonry right now. We expect too much from men who have job and family obligations. We ask for too much for nothing expecting our membership to give and give and give. And as our numbers dwindle there is a greater burden placed on those who remain. I have seen too many Masters under too much stress. And our Grand Lodges still commit us to huge Institutionalized Charity projects.

Our number one cause of our drop in membership is no longer the cause of death. We are now losing more Brothers because they are quitting, packing up and leaving. We now have a retention problem. And the more burdens we place on those remaining, and the more we expect from those left to pick up the slack, the more members will continue to leave. Quite frankly the large bulk of membership does not want to live Masonry 24/7. And they resent being constantly asked to devote much time and energy to fund raisers and charitable programs for the general public when their main reason for joining was to practice Masonry. So asking men to step up to the plate, run for Grand Lodge Office, work every night and on weekends for the Craft is totally unrealistic. And if you stand there and say – well if you don’t like the way Masonry is being run and you don’t like what you see why don’t you get more active and work to change things is just so much unrealistic, impractical and uncaring hot air. This way of thinking takes away from the responsibility local Lodge and Grand Lodge officers now have to the Brethren to run a good ship and choose the right course. And it will not make Masonry grow because it will lose more members than it brings in.

Why are we in this fix? What has gotten us into such a tailspin? What can we do to get out?

When we took in large numbers of members after WWII we took in men who were not interested in the character building side of Freemasonry which involved research, study and education – learning about the symbolism and ethics of Masonry and the meaning and applications for every day life. They wanted to continue the camaraderie they got to experience in fighting a war. Nothing brings you closer to understanding the concept of brotherhood than your life being dependent on your buddy, on your unit. So what we got was good time Charlie social Masonry. Now normally there will be a shift in emphasis with a leadership change which comes about when the next generation joins the Craft. But the Vietnam War destroyed all that. Dropping out and doing what feels good killed the interest of the next generation in joining Freemasonry. Actually it killed the interest in joining almost anything. So the same generation, the same leaders stayed in power twice as long as they normally would. They worked a double shift.

This had two disastrous effects. First it created a tremendous double generation gap. You had young men coming into the Craft looking at a Lodge ruled and governed and populated by men old enough to be their grandfathers. If you think there is a generation gap between father and son you ought to see how great it is between grandfather and grandson. Out of sight. Camaraderie was not the same. And fifty years of unquestioned power and governing inbred into the psyche of these WWII Masons that they had the only way of doing things. Thus “we always did it this way” became a reality because it truly was done that way for such an extended period of time. As previously stated, normally every 25 years there would be a turnover in leadership with a new generation taking over and imprinting their generational vision on Masonry. But that did not happen around 1975 when it should have occurred.

Finally as Masonry bleedingly limped into the 21st century younger Brothers were forced to take the reins of leadership because most of the WWII Masons had passed to the Celestial Lodge above. But since all these new Brothers were trained by the WWII Masons, they too practiced good time Charlie social Masonry except that by this time Grand Lodges in a stage of absolute panic had turned Masonry into a giant Service Club with Institutionalized Charity as the new savior of Masonry. So what ever Masonic education and study there was now was totally destroyed with the majority of time, effort and money going to “Masonic Awareness” and the marketing of Freemasonry.

Which leads us to point number two. The only grandeur left in Freemasonry was in political maneuvering. Masonic politics became the new way to gain preeminence in the Fraternity. No longer were Masonic men of letters, its writers, researchers and speakers held in high esteem. For too many years the study and practice of the mysteries of Freemasonry had been neglected. Now with social Masonry evolving into Service Club Masonry we were entering our third generation of Masons who knew very little about the organization to which they belonged. They didn’t study, research, read books, write or hold any kind of Masonic education programs in their Lodges. Men now held Grand Lodge office that can’t even read Pike or Wilmshurst or Pound never mind speak intelligently about any philosophical underpinnings of the Craft.

So if you didn’t have to know anything about Masonry to rise to preeminence in the Fraternity, how then did you get to be Grand Master? By all the means used to become President of the United States. Our Grand Masters became glib, fast talking, charismatic Masons who ruthlessly wielded the scepter of political power. They constantly sought to increase the power of Grand Lodge by demanding of their chartered Lodges that they do this and do that and submit this report and that report and hold this event and that event. Today the local Masonic Lodge is scourged of all its individuality and its ability to be creative on its own. It is in the hip pocket of the Grand Master and the oligarchy that rules from on high. This centralization of power closely mirrors the increase in power of Washington in our civil government.

It cannot be overemphasized that this means that we are now in a system where it’s not what you know but who you know. And the rise to Masonic power is gained by the means our civil politicians use –building personal relationships, networking and trading favors and other means which can be more devious but will not be listed. It then becomes a process whereby what is good for Freemasonry and what would truly bring it into the 21st century vibrant and growing means nothing to those in the Grand Lodge system. THEY CARE NOTHING ABOUT PROGRAMS THAT FURTHER THE CRAFT. They, like every other politician in life, care about getting, maintaining and wielding power. To accomplish these ends it matters not where you stand but how others feel about things and what kind of coalition can be put together and how a commitment to any issue will affect your standing in the ability to step up onto the next rung of the ladder.

Faced with these realities you can, outside the inner circle, but within the system work very hard to reform Freemasonry and return it to its former grandeur but all that work will yield little result when most of those in the system with power to implement are only concerned in putting a feather in their own cap. In other words you are beating your head against the wall. And when you do all this work and spend all the time necessary and end up with nothing, believe me what ensues is utter frustration and chances are you become another retention statistic because you have left. So this is why I say extending the effort is fruitless.

So nothing can be done? No I am not saying that. What I am saying is that if you desire to make change you need to channel your efforts in another manner. The only thing that power respects is other power. And the only thing that politicians fear is losing power and being booted out of office. You don’t make the change you seek by convincing other members in the system the righteousness of your argument. They don’t care how right you are. You don’t spend all your tine and effort into implementing a certain agenda because that is butting your head against the wall. You don’t get anywhere by being a good little boy, kissing ass, keeping your mouth shut and trying to climb the ladder without upsetting the apple cart. You don’t make change by working inside a system where you have to toe the line and work hard to further programs that are the exact opposite of what you want to do, – in order to get ahead. You can’t further the programs of a Grand Lodge which you know are destroying Freemasonry in order to stay in the system and eventually get enough power to change it. By the time you get the power, you have worked so hard to destroy it, that you have actually destroyed it. You can’t work against what you believe in to get ahead. If the present system is corrupt and you are absolutely convinced that the direction it is going in is self-defeating then helping those in power to do more of the same is stupid.

In order to change things you are going to have to play hardball, because once again the only thing those who worship power alone respect is the power of others and what they could or might do to them. Now you may stay in the system but that does not mean you are going to work to further it. And that does not mean you are going to enter the corporate Masonic ladder. What you are going to do at every opportunity you get is to point out the folly of the present course of action. You are not going to enter into personal attacks but rather intellectual debates challenging the power structure to change course. If you are a writer you will write articles explaining how destructive present policies are and what would work much better. If you are a speaker you will do the same. If your Grand Lodge runs opinion forums you will show up and ask the tough questions that need to be asked. You will write letters and E-Mails explaining your reforms to any and all. You might form a group of like-minded reform Brothers and meet on a regular basis – a reform club. You will probably launch a Masonic website and from that form a power base where you constantly point out the destructive path Grand Lodge is on. Yes you are going to be in their face and they are not going to like it. But if you stick to ideas and not personalities you are still on the high road. But you can’t change them you can only defeat them.

Will this course of action jeopardize your membership? Could be. Depends on what you would rather do, remain on a sinking ship or stay afloat in a lifeboat. If you are the only one doing this then obviously you are in some trouble. But what if 300 Brothers all felt the same way and were all participating with you and were doing some of the same things? Power respects power. Power does not respect ideas. Ideas cannot defeat power only ideas with power behind them.

My path personally led me to leave mainstream Masonry and join Prince Hall. I won’t go into the reasons why I made that decision nor recommend it to others. Some have said that now that I am on the outside looking in I can no longer influence change. Poppycock! I didn’t leave Freemasonry. I’m still in the legitimate, non clandestine practice of Masonry. I can speak at other Lodges, I can write articles, I can blog and in every way still call attention to failed practices. As time goes by I will be able to visit the Communication of any mainstream Lodge and in casual conversation whether over coffee or a pint I can have my say and influence the thinking of others who in turn will carry the torch of reform into their Grand Sessions. Who knows what the future holds in store for the intermingling of Prince Hall & mainstream Masonry. That future might mean the allowance of dual membership.

And finally what is the way out of this Masonic political power trip? How do we get politics out of Masonry and get leaders who are concerned with the quality of the Craft not their own well being? The reason we got into this mess in the first place is that we stopped researching, studying and teaching the mysteries of Freemasonry and venerating our writers, researchers and speakers. If we return now to correcting that and making the philosophy of Freemasonry and the practice of its virtues the focal point of our existence then it will become what you know not who you know which is important. Our Lodges and Grand Lodges will no longer be populated by a bunch of know nothing Masons. The way that politics gains a stranglehold of Freemasonry is to have no other standard of preeminence available. Only then does power become the standard.

Also a system that encourages the study of itself and exalts the education of it members places knowledge on a pedestal not raw political power without knowledge. So when and if we choose to replace the system we have now with a one that reveres Masonic knowledge and that requires its leaders to be well versed in the meaning of Masonry, the symbolism of Masonry, the virtues of Masonry and the importance of passing on that knowledge then we no longer will be riding on the roller coaster ride of political gamesmanship. Right now we are like a church with a Pastor who has no knowledge of scripture. Right now we are no more advanced than any other organization out there. To be the noble, grand organization that stands heads and tails above any other we have to again learn and teach that Freemasonry is a philosophy of life, a way of life, and an answer to what is the meaning of life.

In order to get to that point we need to force the issue. Those in our Grand Lodges so concerned with numbers and dollars and staying in power will not change and reform of their own free will and accord. Helping them and working with them only hastens the destruction of Freemasonry. They will not step down quietly but will go kicking and screaming, but go they must.

The only thing left to say is that this doesn’t apply to everyone, but if the shoe fits.

Wor. Frederic L. Milliken

From the North Eastern Corner said: WOW!
Without a doubt our fraternity has lost its way. This paper resounds with ideals that should echo in the halls of emptying temples throughout the country. Ours is a society that built many nations from the light emanating from our brotherhood, not how many charitable institutions we support. If we do not restore the foundation we will be lost among Kiwanis, Exchange, and Rotary clubs, when we should not even be mentioned in the same breath.

PM Michael said: Any way we could get this in a format that’s easier to print and save (a PDF would be awesome)?

Anonymous said: Brother Fred, If you are reading this or someone can get this to you. Thank you very much for stating outloud in such a concise manner the truth. You have always had the courage of your convictions. Never stop doing that. You are a light in the darkness. This paper of yours should be spread around the world. There are many that need to read it.Fraternally,

Tom Accuosti said: I was nodding my head in agreement until I got to this part:And the rise to Masonic power is gained by the means our civil politicians use –building personal relationships, networking and trading favors and other means which can be more devious but will not be listed.Sometimes we sound as paranoid about ourselves as the anti-Masons sound about us.First off, any organization that has people in it will become a political organization. Politics is really just the interplay of people within a community, and there is nothing inherently evil about it.

That said, while I agree that while some amount of politicking goes on at the GL level, that certainly doesn’t take away from some of the dedicated men that serve for years as District officers, committee members, and yes, even in the GL line itself. Do some officers do little more than enjoy chicken dinners? Possibly. But most of the ones in my own GL have been very active all through their tenure, and continue to be active after having left office. You can find them running child ID events, coaching ritual, or even serving as Secretary back in their mother lodges.

I’m a fairly new Mason, so I don’t know if the “let’s bash the Grand Lodge” attitude is something new, or if it’s been around for some time. But I can tell you that I think the attitude is misplaced. Grand Lodges are not going to save individual lodges – any innovation has to come from the lodge level itself.

I agree that Masonry saw a huge increase from men who wanted that camaraderie after the war, and that the decline in the population is due to the change in societal culture from the 50s and 60s and 70s. I also agree that maybe we do need to be a smaller fraternity in order to be more effective to our members. But I don’t believe that blaming our GLs is going to solve anything.

Frederic L. Milliken said: Thanks for the feedback, Brother Tom. I did mention at the end that this might not apply to everyone. There are a lot of really excellent Grand Lodges out there. Among those are, Vermont, Minnesota and California.But there are many more poor ones who actually retard the development of local Lodges. What you failed to address were the policies that opened the West Gate to everybody, turning Freemasonry into a Service Club, the marketing of Freemasonry with direct Masonic adverising and One Day classes.Frankly many Grand Lodges seem to be totally absorbed by their cash flow and their membership numbers. They advertise a product, Freemasonry, which they have helped to water down and cheapen. When the product does not match the hype, the result is non participation and demits.My thesis is that if you spent the time and money on Masonic research, instruction and education you might create such a great product that it will sell itself.

Anonymous said: While I agree somewhat with the paper, the fact is that we, as Masons, have been hashing these issues for over a decade and a bit longer. Now, not every jurisdiction is perfect but some have made REAL headway and it’s still not enough.Worse yet, we have those that claim they are in possession of the True Freemasonry and are self-styled revolutionaries. Yet, many base their claims on unabashed sophistry (in the modern use of the term)and while claiming freedom, deride those with opposing views and, sometimes, a wiser outlook.It becomes clear to me that many of them, like the medieval typologists of the Bible, seek to find cues and prophesy for their own revolution. Sure, change should and must be made, but their claims are only fueled by much better writers such as Bro. Milliken but not put to the proper test because they oft-times lack the knowledge AND patience needed to make the change.Nobody wins in this situation. My only advice: screw your heads on straight and even I may listen to you and find more value than currently offered: a lot of shouting and posturing over who is right, as well as much historical and philosophical revisionism.

Frederic.l.Milliken said: In rebuttal I would say that TO Lodges are one way that progress in the direction I have written about is being made. Unfortunately some jurisdictions forbid them.The point to be made here is that Gen Y and beyond have, in tradition rebelling fashion, done a 180 on the mores of their father’s hippie values of free love, drugs and anything goes that feels good. Todays youth are more traditionally valued orientated and they seek avenues of expression which reflect those views. In searching for modern expressions of value orientated beliefs they find few organizations to match their life style. They are “seekers”, looking for the right place to commit themselves to involvement. Freemasonry is the perfect place for this ethics shift of views. It offers traditional family values and mores that fit the seekers search. Freemasonry, as a philosophical character building society, dedicated to bringing out the noble side of man is what the seekers are willing to join.But instead of devoting time, talent and treasures to the advancement of individuals we are running around in a panic about our low membership numbers and the resulting loss of money. So with thoughts of numbers and cash we have invested in marketing the product without keeping up its standards of excellence. Younger generations of seekers are enticed in with the vision of Freemasonry only to find its application to be a bird of another feather, namely fund raisers, Masonic Awareness – Masonic publicity programs disguised as charity and community action -, social partying, fish frys and hand shaking with lots of photographs.The opportunity to really grow is being lost in the rush to add members by any means and fill coffers the same way. Seekers are going elsewhere because we do not really practice what we preach.

PM Radcliffe said: Very interesting, should Masonry be all things to all people, or should the embers of esoteric traditions be stirred. I think that with the plethora of spiritual information out there now and it being filtered through the internet, we should patiently wait as change separates wheat from chaff, we know not from whence the wind comes, but JHVHs time ticks along without missing a beat.

March 6th A Legacy Of Having Been Tried, Sometimes Denied, But Always Ready To Be Tried Again


Two hundred thirty seven years ago today, on March 6, 1775, Prince Hall, Cryrus Jonbus, Buestop Slinger, Prince Rees, John Carter, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Cuff Bufform, Thomas Sanderson, Prince Taylor, Cato Spears, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Tilly were made Master Masons in a British Army Lodge of Irish register. The Lodge gave them the privilege of meeting, marching in procession, and burying their dead, but not conferring degrees. In March, 1784, Brother Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a charter which was issued September 29, 1784, but was not delivered until April 29, 1787, establishing African Lodge 459 on May 6, 1787. Four years later, on June 24, 1791, the African Grand Lodge was formed with Prince Hall as Grand Master. MWB Hall died December 7, 1807. Subsequently, in his honor, the Lodge became M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM, of Massachusetts. Today, the great majority of US state Grand Lodges as well as the Grand Lodge of England and many international Grand Lodges recognize Prince Hall Lodges.

It may seem strange to some because of the fierce determination for the astute ,mason of darker persuasion to be identified, not just as a mason, but as a Prince Hall Mason.  There is a difference in “masons.”  Because of the trials and tribulations that we, as Prince Hall Masons have endured, it is with a great sense of pride to be privileged to wear the name.  It is mute and vocal testimony to the fact that, “Prince Hall, we’re still here!”

A lot of things are not appreciated in life, sometimes because the method used in gaining the honor, the privilege, or the tangible product, is not one where it called for a sacrifice of some sort.  Not so with Prince Hall Masons, for we have, “been up the creek, and down the river.”  The Prince Hall Mason can truly say, “I have often been tried, but never denied…”  The background, the legacies, the involvement of the Prince Hall Masons in the growth of the meaningful things that were gained in the Black Experience and the Black Church, speak louder than the negative reports that sometimes seep into our midst.  Prince Hall Masons have many things to be proud of, because of the sacrifices made by those brothers and sisters in by-gone years.  I for one do appreciate the many years of their sacrificial efforts.

Because of its beautiful history, Prince Hall Masons have come under attack, by word and deed.  There have been court cases, negative media coverage, and by and large, an exclusion from the pages of history found in libraries or in private collections, sorry to say.  However, little by little, the story is being told of the many worthwhile things that have been done in the name of human endeavors by those brethren of the craft.  Because of its beautiful history, Prince Hall Masons have had to endure many groups professing to be “masons.”  Some even carry the name, “Prince Hall Mason,” but the result is not the same.  It is said that “Imitation is the highest form of flattery” or something to that order.  However, when the term, “mason” is used, everyone should be aware that it does not always mean, “Prince Hall Mason” and there is a difference.

When one considers Prince Hall, one can readily understand why there would be attempts at duplicating the fraternity that bears his name.  It is a proud name, one that can stand up to the criticisms that may come from opponents; one that can, because of the many brothers and sisters that wear the name, withstand the court cases and innuendos of smaller minds.  Prince Hall was a man that American History can be proud of, even though some today may feel threatened by the love some members have for their order

Freemasonry is a system of morality, a system that is shared between members of the Masonic Family, and then is shared with the community at large.  It is not a secret system, for the lessons come from the Holy Bible, the Holy Koran, the Vegas, and many other religious books found wherever there is a system of religious ideals.  Because of the Judeao-Christian principles practiced by the bulk of the Prince Hall membership, it stands to reason the main teachings regarding Freemasonry would come from the Holy Bible.

Prince Hall may not have foreseen the results of his endeavor way back in 1775 when he and 14 other Blacks were initiated into the Masonic Order.  He may not have foreseen the many hundreds of thousands of members world-wide that we see today.  But Prince Hall did believe in a God that “sits high” and looks low.”  That belief was fostered down through many generations of Afro-Americans, and now includes members of all racial persuasions.  It is a dream come true for anyone that dared to dream in 1775.  We cannot say that those members did dream in 1775, but I am sure that the same God that blessed their endeavors back then is still in the blessing business, for we are the recipients of His grace and goodness.  Our very survival and presence bear witness to that.

It was not in man’s cards that we be here, for the mason of old had to “be tried, sometimes denied, but stood ready to be tried again.”  Those days of physical opposition are gone now.  The days of being in court, defending your right to be called Prince Hall Masons, are now history.  The blood that was shed for the right that was taken for granted by all other Americans, shall not be in vain, and we revere our dead members, we celebrate the birth of our founder and benefactor, Prince Hall, the man, the mason, the patriot, the preacher!  We’re still here, Prince Hall! (1)

(1) Prince Hall, We’re Still Here, Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas –

The Bee Hive is indebted to Brother Antonio Caffey, PM St. Mark’s Lodge No. 7, Columbus, OH for an excellent video and for The Phylaxis Society and The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Of Arkansas for text.

The Besmirching Of Freemasonry’s Reputation

It has long been The Beehive’s contention that what one Mason, one Lodge, one Grand Lodge does reflects on us all. If we do what is good and righteous the perception of each of us is favorable and if we do what is immoral and vulgar the perception of us is unfavorable. But what one does reflects on us all. This is why it is my business what other Freemasons do or do not do. In Mainstream Masonry the actions of West Virginia and Arkansas Grand Lodges directly reflect on the perception of the rest of Mainstream Masons wheresoever they may be dispersed.

Particularly devastating to the reputation of Freemasons can be the action of bogus, clandestine and irregular Freemasonry with the exception, in my opinion, of female and Co-Masonry. Most of these male bogus Lodges and Grand Lodges are breakaways, knock offs and even outright dishonest scams. As such many lack the discipline that the apparatus and numbers of Mainstream and Prince Hall provide their members – for the most part a system that enforces the morality and good name of the Craft.

That is why a recent story from a bogus Grand Lodge in Maryland was so important. The Baltimore Sun reports:

Raucous parties at Bolton Hill lodge draw complaints

Neighbors ask zoning board to rein in Hiram Grand lodge

 Bolton Hill community leaders pleaded with Baltimore zoning officials Tuesday to prevent a fraternal lodge from holding late-night parties, saying that the raucous gatherings are destroying the character of the neighborhood.
City Councilman William H. Cole IV, who represents the area, clutched a sheaf of fliers for Hiram Grand Lodge events that featured scantily clad women, promises of “top shelf liquor” and names such as “Love & Lust Pre-Valentine’s Day event.”

The lodge is currently zoned as a residential property, and authorities say it has violated the zoning code by renting the facility for large parties.

The lodge does not have a liquor license, and is barred from charging a cover or charging for alcohol. But police, Cole and community leaders testified that they had witnessed parties that violated those provisions.

Members of the lodge, an affiliate of the Masons, built the multi-purpose center 12 years ago with $900,000 in state bond money, according to testimony and state documents. Since the lodge is a nonprofit, it does not pay property taxes

Here is a good example of what others do is my business. This bogus Grand Lodge is located on the 1200 block of Eutaw Place in Baltimore, Maryland. The real Prince Hall Masonic Grand Lodge is located on the 1300 block of Eutaw Place. I am sure that the general public along with the reporter that wrote this story have no idea of the distinction between the two Grand Lodges. So Prince Hall Maryland is going to take a certain amount of flak for what went on at the Hiram Grand Lodge.

The lesson here is that it behooves every regular Freemason to make sure that they make the distinction between real Freemasonry and unauthorized knock offs. It would have been wise for the Prince Hall Grand Lodge to have a public awareness committee appointed by the Grand Master that could swing into action when situations like this occur. This committee could have asked the Baltimore Sun for a follow-up article explaining the Masonic differences. It could also have been there the night that the police were called in to quell this raucous disturbance to hand out pamphlets to explain the differences in the Grand Lodges, that is if Prince Hall Maryland was ready with a handout already printed for just such an occasion.

And a parting word to the wise: If you are thinking of joining Freemasonry or you are already a Freemason and are invited to visit a strange Lodge by a friend, ask to see the charter. This will not be a corporation charter from a civil state agency. This will be a charter issued by a duly recognized Mainstream or Prince Hall Grand Lodge that is so deemed to be a true and regular Lodge by a consensus of its world-wide peers.

All of us who are Freemasons or thinking of becoming such would do well to consult The Phylaxis Society’s Commission on Bogus Masonic Practices. Speaking from that Committee Brother Ezekiel Bey had this to say:

“Many Brothers are not aware of the importance of their regularity because in some cases it has not affected them in any personal way. Some view this Fraternity as something as a club, common organization or some social society. One of the biggest problems when dealing with regularity is the ignorance of many who choose not to educate themselves, especially concerning their legitimacy or their illegitimacy. Both are crucial in that if the one who is regular understands not the importance and how it affects his communities and the world abroad, he is blind of the imposters who raid his communities with the falsehood disguised as charity. On the other hand many who are irregular or even part of a clandestine body do not know the origin of his Grand Lodge/Lodge, and are hoodwinked with false pretense that he has join a respectful organization whose main objective and cause is for the upliftment of humanity, never noticing fraud or deceit. Many good Men have been sucked into these organizations by way of ignorance. “

Don’t you be one of them. Educate yourself and others around you and when and where you can let the general public know the difference between legitimate and illegitimate Freemasonry.

Mumbai Indian Freemason Visits Prince Hall Boston Lodge

Stories of Prince Hall & Mainstream interaction are popping out everywhere.  And the beautiful aspect of it all is that there is great appreciation and joy at this intermingling. Brotherly love and affection prevail and every moral and social virtue cements Brothers of different traditions.

The Beehive  reported recently the story of the Mainstream Grand Master of Michigan visiting a Prince Hall Lodge with many of his Michigan Brethren in “Bridging The Gap.” The latest example of this joyous cross visitation comes from a personal friend, Brother Tofique Fatehi from Mumbai, India. Brother Fatehi and I met on the Global Fraternal Network in the late 90s.  Soon, thereafter, Brother Fatehi journeyed to Massachusetts  to visit his son who is living here. When an opportunity to see the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team perform in Southern Maine arose, Tofique took the opportunity to accompany us and see US Mainstream Masonry.

Tofique returned this fall for another family visit and got in touch with me to see about visiting a Prince Hall Lodge in Massachusetts.  I turned him over to the capable hands of Worshipful Jim Bennette of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, another good friend who has a strong relationship with Massachusetts Prince Hall.

Tofique reports in the Global Fraternal Network newsletter:

While in Massachusetts I visited a PH Lodge in Boston. Bro. Fred Milliken (now in Texas) arranged for my introductions. I attended the Widow Son Lodge in Dorchester (South Boston).

PHA, Prince Hall Masonry, black mason

L to R – SW Otis Sams, WM Dexter McKenzie, Bro. Tofique Fatehi, JW Linus Eyong

Tofique reports that they rolled out the red carpet for him and he had a great time and was impressed by their ritual & knowledge.

All this goes to show that it is time now for all the old barriers to be taken down.  We are in the second decade of the 21st century and the manner in which different races and cultures have heretofore interacted is a thing of the past. The future brings us all closer together in brotherly love and affection.

So let us all do our part to see that the state of Freemasonry in the world opens up into a celebration of its diversity and a new age of the expression of what Freemasonry truly exemplifies.

Phylaxis Society Honors Nelson King

Nelson King Phylaxis Society memorial

The Phylaxis Society just published its magazine totally dedicated to Nelson King.

It is all King, nothing but King, every page.  I don’t know how the other two Societies, The Philalethes Society, of which King was a past President and editor of its publication, and The Masonic Society, of which he also was a member, are honoring Brother King. But it would surprise me if they dedicated the entire contents of one of their publications to just Nelson King.

Right about now perhaps many Mainstream Masons are scratching their heads wondering why there is this Prince Hall adulation of Brother King.

Phylaxis President John B. Williams introduces the latest issue of its publication with these words.

“Nelson King was a friend to Prince Hall Masonry when it was quite unpopular to be so.”

Renowned Prince Hall author and speaker Alton Roundtree, FPS adds:

“I placed Nelson King in the same category as Jerry Marsengill, Allen Roberts and other editors of the Philalethes Magazine who had kept the issue of Prince Hall Freemasonry up for discussion in the Magazine. Nelson seemingly went farther than others in that he took on the role of a defender of Prince Hall Freemasonry.”

“Nelson King was not popular in many quarters, especially outside of Prince Hall Freemasonry. He was subject to threats and humiliating comments. Nevertheless, wherever he stood, he stood.”

Robert N. Campbell, FPSH Phylaxis Society Council of Representatives and President of the Phylaxis Society board tells us:

“He (Nelson King) along with Phylaxis President, the Hon. Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., Ralph McNeal and myself, were among a number of us whose lives were threatened, over the internet for our work and involvement to spread the true ‘cement of B.L.R. &T.’”

The Hon. Rev. Tommy Rigmaiden, FPS, FPC (H-Life) & President Emeritus of the Phylaxis Society in a “A Tribute To My Beloved Nelson King” in the magazine highlights a couple of important events in the life of Nelson King.

He says that in March 2000 King, at that time President of the Philalethes Society, attended the Phylaxis Society’s annual session in Kansas City, Missouri where he inducted 8 African-American Prince Hall Masons into the Masonic Order of Blue Forget-Me-Nots. In the next year, 2001, King invited Phylaxis President Joseph A. Walkes to attend the annual session of the Philalethes Society during Masonic week in Washington D.C. Walkes being ill, Rigmaiden, 1st Vice President, went in his place and enjoyed himself immensely.

On Masonic Central: Nelson King and the Philalethes Society

Another who brings us much information about Nelson King is Brother Aubrey Brown, Sr., MPS who reiterates much of what others have said.

“Perhaps for PHA Masons, his most important distinction is being virtually the last of the great Prince Hall Warriors from within the ranks of Mainstream Masonry. Following in the footsteps of his mentors such as the late Bro. Allen Roberts, Nelson fought to the end for full unilateral recognition of PHA Masonry worldwide within regular Freemasonry.”

Brown also reminds us that

King demitted from his Ontario, Canada Lodge to join the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica to protest his mother Grand Lodge’s refusal to recognize Prince Hall, which it eventually did.

A Fellow of the Philalethes Society King became its only President who was not a United States citizen. He also served as editor of the Philalethes publication and is only one of two Society members to hold both positions at the same time.

Prince Hall Masons recognized Nelson King for his achievements during his lifetime. Brown tells us that in 2000 he received the Prince Hall Civil Rights Activist Award. In 2004 he was made Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica. In 2005 he was inducted into the Phylaxis Society’s Harry A. Williamson Hall of Fame. In 2006 he was made Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

Brown then to proceeds to chronicle what he considers King’s “Two Most Cherished And Successful Projects Most Never Knew About.”


As webmaster of the Philalethes Society King created a visitor’s section called “The Welcome Wall.” Here any and every question about Freemasonry was answered. It became so popular that King could not keep up all by himself. So he appointed a three man Board or Committee of one American Mainstream Mason, one European Mason and one Prince Hall Mason. The PHA Mason was Brother Brown.

When King stepped down from his management positions within the Philalethes Society he sold the site to the Society and moved The Welcome Wall to Guestbook.  Alas in failing health the Society that he had devoted so much time and effort to decided to stab him in the back.

Brown recounts:

“As Nelson became aware of his failing liver, The Philalethes Society contacted and informed him that they felt the name “Welcome Wall” was their intellectual property since he created it while an Officer of the Society. Considering the more important battle facing him, he decided to just close his site. The Welcome Wall died a quiet death. No acknowledgement was given to the Committee members or the Founder of the Welcome Wall when control of the name was taken. Today their version is not as popular or nearly as successful as the real Welcome Wall.”


Many Freemasons are totally unaware of King’s exploits in this labor of love. It all started in 1998 when King and his wife visited Cuba. There he touched base with the Masonic community and saw firsthand what dire straits they were in. When he returned back home to Canada, he started with aspirin and vitamins. Soon he progressed to much needed bandages, drugs and medical equipment.  Because of size limitations some shipments had to be sent to Costa Rica who then sent them on to Cuba.

King created an E-List for the Cuban Relief Fund and solicited donations from anybody and everybody. King’s heroic efforts became known far and wide across the island of Cuba and many letters of thanks were published on the E-List.

The work that King started lives on even after his death. And once again the Masonic community transcends the political divisions that separate good men in order to provide for the well being of those in need.

Within the magazine there are also a few of Nelson King’s more memorable speeches. The first titled “Black and White” was given at the 7th annual Sam Houston Lecture in 2004 at Holland Lodge No. 1 AF & AM, Grand Lodge of Texas, Houston Texas, and was on the legitimacy of Prince Hall Freemasonry. King told me privately and personally that because of the large number of death threats he received that he felt it necessary to hire two body guards.

Another lecture in this issue of the Phylaxis Magazine was an address given at Wilberforce Lodge, MWPHGL, Ohio.

Nelson King’s parting shot and demonstration of his solidarity with Prince Hall was to have Prince Hall perform his funeral ceremony and so Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ontario, MW Joe Halstead, and his team did just that on August 20, 2011 at the Ogden funeral Home in Toronto.

Rest in peace Brother King. Well done good and faithful servant.

Part 1: Prince Hall Masonry from WEOFM on Vimeo.

emblem of industry

How Much Longer Must We Wait?

By the exercise of Brotherly Love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family – the high and low, rich and poor; who, as created by one Almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet  are to aid support and protect each other. On this principle Masonry unites men of every country, sect and compasssquare12opinion….

Thus Freemasonry has set itself up with a morality and code of ethics that teaches toleration, respect for the worth of each and every individual and the symbolism of the Level, that we as Freemasons are all on the same level. These are mighty fine attributes for an organization that could if it worked at it bring the peace and harmony of the Lodge room into civil society.

Unfortunately there are a number of Freemasons in the United States who believe that these lofty ideals only apply to White people, and others, including these racists,  that believe Freemasonry should only be open to Christians. This is the American corruption of Freemasonry not found in other parts of the world.

For fifteen years I have been speaking out strongly against racism and exclusiveness in American Mainstream Freemasonry. Many of my fellow Brethren have told me that they don’t see any of the problems in Freemasonry that I see. If you are a Northern Freemason and have never traveled outside your jurisdiction than perhaps you are correct.

Others who see the problem tell me to cool my jets.  That’s the older generation ways, they tell me. Just be patient, bide your time and all the bigots in Freemasonry will soon die off. They told me that fifteen years ago and I am still waiting, waiting for the day when Blacks and Whites have equal access to this great fraternal institution – not separate but equal which went out of vogue with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – but a oneness without distinction.

My contention all along is that this problem will not just disappear on its own, it must be forced out of Freemasonry much as the federal government had to send federal troops to Little Rock and force Governor Faubus to open public schools to all races. For that I am labeled as some sort of rebel rouser, stirring up a hornets’ nest instead of just patiently waiting for the problem to disappear of its own accord.

But that won’t happen I said. And it hasn’t. Rednecks raise redneck children, KKK people raise little KKK people and racists and bigots raise racist and bigoted children.

Take a look at this video, a long hard look. Play it twice if needed. Notice the age of the perpetrators. These are not old timers soon to die off with their prejudices. These are some of the people in certain areas of American Freemasonry. Some are among our newest candidates.

Consider the Mainstream Grand Lodges of West Virginia and Arkansas. In West Virginia a junior Past Master is expelled without notice or a trial.  One of his most prominent charges is meeting in a neutral zone with Prince Hall Masons to discuss the possibilities of recognition. If you can’t even talk to Prince Hall Masons how do you propose to negotiate with them? The point is you don’t.

In Arkansas the Grand Master declared a generic Masonic license plate produced by Prince Hall to be clandestine. That’s right the license plate was clandestine and the punishment for purchase by any Mainstream Mason was expulsion. The Grand Master had “Masonic officials” stake out the parking lots of stated meetings to find any Mason who had a clandestine plate affixed to his vehicle. Then when Masons across the state started communicating with each other, perhaps to initiate reforms, the Grand Master issued an edict that all Freemasons in the jurisdiction could no longer discuss Freemasonry electronically. The penalty for Masonic E-mail was instant expulsion.

What is retarding Masonic growth is the negative publicity all jurisdictions are experiencing because of the actions of a prejudiced minority. Yet Mainstream Masonry refuses to either police itself or even try to diplomatically whisper words of wisdom into the ears of these all but rogue Grand Lodge officials. West Virginia has pulled recognition of Ohio for allowing PGM Haas to join its ranks. But those Grand Lodges on the Mainstream side who are correctly practicing the virtues of Freemasonry refuse to pull recognition from Grand Lodges like Arkansas and West Virginia who are sullying the name of Freemasonry.

We are now eleven, years into the new millennium. How much longer do we have to wait before Institutionalized prejudice is removed from Mainstream Freemasonry?

20th century Texas history, African American, community

Book Review: Blind Lemon Jefferson

Dr. Bro. Robert UzzelI first met Dr. Bro. Robert Uzzel three years ago at a Grand Session of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. Later I had a more in depth conversation with him at a Phylaxis Convention. Brother Uzzel came over to Prince Hall from the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1981. He has a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Baylor University. He has taught religion and history at various Dallas area colleges and at one time was chairman of the religion department for Paul Quinn College. He has also spent some time as a Texas state social worker. And since 1975 he has been a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He served for awhile as Grand Historian for the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. Plus he is also an accomplished author.

20th century Texas history, African American, communityLast year I reviewed Uzzel’s book, Prince Hall Freemasonry In The Lone Star State. This time around I am taking a look at his book, Blind Lemon Jefferson.” It is not a Masonic book, rather a look at early 20th century Texas history and a mirror into the African American community of that time. It also heralds a great man and a trail blazer in the development of American Blues music. Without Uzzel’s comprehensive work on the life and legacy of Blind Lemon Jefferson, it is possible that this first successful blues recording artist would all but be forgotten outside the music community.

Blind Lemon’s peers, protégés, successors and performers in other musical strains all pay him due respect, however. Other great blues performers that followed him, T-Bone Walker, Josh White, Texas Alexander, Smokeyy Hogg, Lonnie Johnson, Sam ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins and even Bessie Smith bear his imprint. He is also said to have influenced Harry James, Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong and Tommy Dorsey. Bunk Johnson and Jelly Roll Morton paid him tribute in the development of their styles.

The 1960s saw resurgence in Blind Lemon’s music, with such artists as Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Steve Miller and Ray Orbison adopting some of his music and/or style.  Especially enamorate of Blind Lemon was Bob Dylan who recorded Lemon’s See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.

Uzzel tell us:

“Dylan, future king of folk-rock and poet for the social activism of the 1960s, was also described as part of that same tradition begun so eloquently by Blind Lemon. And indeed, while listening to Lemon Jefferson’s 1920 recordings, it is difficult not to hear traces of a young Bob Dylan some forty years later. The distance from the bottomlands of Central Texas to the folk clubs of Greenwich Village and from the country blues to rock ‘n’ roll is a short one.”

Carl Perkins performed a rockabilly version of Lemon’s “Matchbook Blues,” the Beatles recorded an adaptation of the same song and Elvis did the “Teddy Bear Blues.” And the rock group Jefferson Airplane, aka Jefferson Starship, paid Blind Lemon the ultimate tribute by naming themselves after him.

Even the great BB King acknowledges that he got a lot of his “stuff” from Blind Lemon.

Lectric Chair Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson


I want to shake hands with my partner
and ask him how come he’s here.
I want to shake hands with my partner
and ask him how come he’s here.
I had a mess with my family
they goin’ to send me to the electric chair.

I wonder why they electrocute a man after
the one o’clock hour of the night.
I wonder why they electrocute a man after
the one o’clock hour of the night.
Because the current is much stronger
when the folkses turn out all the lights.

I sat in my electrocutin’ room,
my arms folded up and crying.
I sat in the electorcutin’ room,
my arms folded up and crying.
But my baby had to question
whether they gonna electrocute that man of mine.

Well they put me in a coffin
to take me all the way from here.
Well they put me in a coffin
to take me all the way from here.
I’s rather be in some new world
than to be married in the ‘lectric chair.

I seen wrecks on the ocean
I seen wrecks on the blue sea
But my wreck that wrecked my heart
when they brought my electrocuted daddy to me.

There are many different kinds of blues. Blind Lemon’s was a country style. No piano or band accompaniment for him. His work is often called a “holler.” Uzzel tells us that Blind Lemon sang the Texas blues,

“rooted in the Central Texas soil, characterized as having a great deal of ‘moaning and droning’ but as less percussive and with lighter emphasis on individual notes than the Delta blues.”

“The music of Blind Lemon Jefferson was an expression of archaic or country blues. This style, which is regarded as the first phase of the blues as an established form, is characterized by non-standardized forms, unamplified guitar, and spoken introductions and endings. At times, country blues performers were known to use ostinato patterns in the guitar accompaniment, bottlenecks on the frets of the guitar, and rough, growling tones, with falsetto voice used for contrast or emotional emphasis. This style stands in contrast to the classic or city blues style, which developed during the 1920s and was characterized by standardized form with regular beginnings and endings and two or more instruments in the accompaniment.”

Uzzel comprised material for this book over many years – decades. That gave him the opportunity to interview hundreds of people who knew Blind Lemon or had talked to him at one time or were influenced by him, adding a reality to the book that would have been missing without them. You will find pictures of some of these interviewees included in this work. Uzzel chronicled the effort to provide a new headstone for Blind Lemon’s grave and the effort for other historical recognition of which he was often a part of. He attended the 2001 Blues Festival in Wortham, Texas, Blind Lemon’s birthplace. There is much merit to be said for 30 years of research.

Blind Lemon Jefferson by Robert Uzzel is a well written, well documented book by an author who has a keen insight into the African American community and who has the knowledge, training and expertise in the fields of religion and history. Rather than a personal adulation of a music fan, this book is a factual representation of reality – a glimpse into the early 1900s, especially of those who were struggling, and a tribute to an icon of the music world whose legacy will now live on. Thanks to Robert Uzzel, well done!

I stood on the corner and almost bust my head.
I stood on the corner and almost bust my head.
I couldn’t make enough money to buy me a loaf of bread.
My girl’s a house maid and she earns a dollar a week.
My girl’s a house maid and she earns a dollar a week.
I’m so hungry on pay day, I can’t hardly speak.
Now gather round one, people, let me tell you true facts.
Now gather round one, people, let me tell you true facts.
That tough luck has struck me and the rats is sleepin’ in my hat.

Tin Cup Blues – Blind Lemon Jefferson

First Ever Joint Conference Of The Phylaxis & Philalethes Societies

San Francisco flagThe first ever joint session of the Phylaxis and Philalethes Societies will  be held in San Francisco at the Scottish Rite Center on August 27 next month.  This brings together Mainstream and Prince Hall Masonic Research Bodies together for a historic confeence.

Among the speakers will be noted authors Alton Roundtree and Tom Worrel.  For a complete run down on this momentus occasion see:

The Beehive can’t help but wonder what will be going through the minds of Mainstream jurisdictions who have not recognized Prince Hall, especially West Virginia and Arkansas. Will these jurisdictions boycott the conference and are we going to see some more pulling of recognition?