PRINCE HALL MASONRY
An introduction to Prince Hall Masonry, the world’s largest and oldest Black Masonic fraternity.
When and Where Was Prince Hall Freemasonry Created?
The first lodge of this important fraternity was founded in Boston in 1775 by Prince Hall (seen at left), a free African American patriot and activist who was a formative figure in the birth of our nation. Prince Hall Masonry came into existence during racial segregation, when many lodges denied membership to Black applicants and refused to acknowledge Black Masonic lodges. From the beginning, the organization was a champion for civil rights, along with fraternal values.
Today, it is the oldest and largest predominantly Black fraternity in the U.S., providing an extremely meaningful community and experience for its hundreds of thousands of members.
What’s the History of Prince Hall Masonry in California?
In the Golden State, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California traces its origins to 1784 and has operated continuously since 1855. Today, the Grand Lodge of California and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California formally recognize one another, meaning that members are permitted to work together in their respective lodges.
Further, the two grand lodges often partner on charitable and community projects, too, like the philanthropic efforts including the Masons4Mitts glove drive and a public cornerstone ceremony for the Sacramento Kings basketball arena.
Who Are Some Famous Black Freemasons?
As you might expect from America’s oldest historically Black fraternity—and a leading civil rights organization—the organization has had scores of famous, influential, and celebrity members over the years.
As just a few examples:
- Civil rights leaders like Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, John Lewis, Martin Luther King Sr. (the father of Martin Luther King Jr.), and NAACP activist Medgar Evers.
- Musicians like Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and Paul Robeson.
- Athletes like Sugar Ray Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal.