Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Washington State and the Charge Against Clandestine Masonry Pt. 3

With the martyrdom of many of our Black leaders at the close of the 60s, the the years of 1970-79 ushered in a transition in the approach to Clandestine Masonry by the Commission on Clandestine Masonry and the Jurisdiction of Washington.

1970 opens with MW PGM Frank Russell at the helm of a vibrant Prince Hall Organization (Wa), with a Clandestine Commission manned by the likes of Masonic greats:

Ill. Russell S. Gideon, PGM
MW Johnny Allen, PGM
WB Theodore Spearman
RW Sylvester J. Lake, PGM
RW James E. Chase
RW James A. Davis
WB James W. Young[1]

Professor Quintard Taylor,the Scott and Dorthy Bullitt Professor of American History at UW, explained the shift in these words:

"By the end of the 1960s, however, a significant number of Black Seattleites had turned away from that goal and sought instead to build a Community within the Central District free from the economic and psychological control of White Seattle. For them the term, "black power" signaled a radically different mood and future for race relations in the city and nation."[2]

This emerging perspective pushed a new strategy in the fight against Clandestine Masonry in Washington State. The sentiment of unity among the Black Community took precedence, but even that didn't extinguish the charge against illegitimate freemasonry; it only made adjustments to the tactics. MW Frank Russell address the issue of Clandestine Masonry in the 1970 Grand Master's Address as such[3]:
pg. 8 1970 Grand Master's Address
pg. 9 1970 Grand Master's Address

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Wa. had taken a new perspective on strategies needed to fight Clandestine Masonry-FIGHT ALL OF IT! We can also recognize and identify a maturity in the perspective of ourselves as Masons and a Grand Lodge. No longer was it believed that we needed to be accepted by the White Grand Lodge to validate us as Masons and a Grand Lodge. The records spoke and the question of Prince Hall legitimacy had firmly been established throughout the world; we did not have to fight to prove who we were-WE ARE WHO WE ARE!

This set the tone for the rest of the Session, the Committee on the Grand Master's Address reported, and it was motioned by MW Johnny Allen (Seconded by Brother David Shaw) that the Grand Master's Address be received with a rising ovation and placed in the Archive's of the Grand Lodge. Motion Carried.[4]

The Commission's report revealed that the Clandestine issue was of national importance, they reported:

"The desire of our Grand Master Frank Russell to affect something concrete in the way of eliminating this cancer from our midst encouraged him to participate in the Grand Master's Summit Conference held in Chicago early in the year of 1970"[5]

As we can also gather from the above statement is that the change in the perspective and approach of the Grand Lodge did not affect the zeal in which they pursued the demise of Clandestine masonry in the State. The Commission pointed out that finances in this matter was again placed on the table by the Grand Lodge of Washington (MS), but was met with resignation due to a more challenging issue, RECOGNITION:
pg. 69, 1970 Clandestine Commission report[6]

The Grand Lodge of Washington did indeed list this meeting as April 17th, 1970, "meeting with the Grand Master of the Prince Hall Lodge"[7]. Mr. Bovington, a member of the Grand Lodge of Washington, made this report to the Grand Lodge of Washington during the 113th Annual Grand Communication[8]
pg. 131, 1970 report on Clandestine Masonry

pg. 132, 1970 Report on Clandestine Masonry

The concern of Mr. Bovington that Prince Hall Masons "were losing their rights" was based on what he perceived to be the end of the litigation process and fight against Clandestine Masonry. But, what he didn't have the privilege of knowing was that Prince Hall had BROADENED their scope on WHO could be considered clandestine. The Clandestine Commission made a declaration, in the same year Mr. Bovington made his report (1970):

"For all intents and purposes it is quite apparent that we must take the initiative and develop OUR OWN plans WITHOUT expecting aid from the Washington State Grand Lodge...It appears that our sights were set on black persons rather than on whites"[9]

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington recognized the adjustment that needed to be made, to focus on clandestine Masonry as a whole issue and not just a BLACK issue. They also gathered the understanding that the Washington State Grand Lodge only seemed interested in fighting the Black clandestine groups as well, and made no effort to exert the same energy in fighting Clandestine Masonry when it bore a white face instead.

In 1971, we find a most striking change in the Commission-it's NAME.The Roster of 1970-1971 Committee Appointments (1971 Proceedings) finds the Commission on Clandestine Masonry now called, the Commission on Non Prince Hall Masons[10]. This was a recommendation of the Grand Master, M.W. Frank Russell, reflecting the sentiment of a fresh approach to dealing with other groups of color in the State[11]. the Commission's report was as follows:
pg. 49, 1971 Commission on Non Prince Hall Masons Report[12]

The "watch-and-wait" policy didn't last long, because in 1972, we find a full Commission report loaded with a significant encounter with the Sons of Hati, and the one, John R. Bullock, who was the "sovereign grand commander" of their Scottish Rite arm. This is of importance, because I ran into his name before on the Phylaxis Society website, on the Commission on Bogus Masonry and Practices section. Honorable Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. (Founder of the Phylaxis Society) also had crafted a paper on John R. Bullock:
Some time ago, I wrote a paper “John R. Bullock: Most Sovereign Grand Commander (So-called)” . I placed most of the illustrations on transparencies and presented it before the members of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington to warn them of the criminal fraud that was taking place within their jurisdiction. Most thought it was a shame, said they knew the people involved while shrugging it off, and did nothing. It would be many years before the Prince Hall Grand Lodge would do anything, until the outrageous conduct of that fraud became too much for the Prince Hall Freemasons to bear. Today that outfit has been absorbed by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. [13]

The full paper was published in the 1997 edition of the Transactions of the Lux e Tenebris and indicates the nature of the threat of this bogus body of "masons". Honorable Joseph A. Walkes cited Isaac Evens Blair's book, The Thomson Fraud, which revealed that John R. Bullock had patterned the Sons of Hati Supreme Council and Grand lodge after the criminal organization headed by Matthew McBlain Thomson, founder of the American Masonic Federation[14], McBlain is pictured below:

Matthew McBlain in the Universal Freemason publication 

According to the Commission's report, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington had received a request from the Sons of Hati for a conference to gauge the present perspective of the Grand Lodge on Non Prince Hall masons. No doubt, they had already been informed and knew of the fate of the John A. Bell and Universal Grand Lodge in 1963 and wanted to determine if they would receive a call from attorneys concerning their existence in Seattle. Present for the Sons of Hati were John R. Bullock, one A. L. Washington who was a former HEALED Prince Hall mason, who was now a Grand Master (Mr. Washington was accepted in Upton Lodge #11, then eventually dropped from membership); also there was Ricci Ricardo, George Waters, and Roy Freeman[15].

MW Russell Gideon reported:

pg 32, 1972 Commission on Non Prince Hall masons report[16]

The 1974 Proceedings provides information on the death of A. L. Washington, and the upheaval in the ranks of the Sons of Hati[17]:
pg. 22, Commission on Non Prince Hall Masons report

A. L. Washington was not replaced for a year, which speaks volumes to the chaos that reigned in the Sons of Hati camp. This continued into the year 1975, where the Commission reported:

"During the past year their internal bickerings have done much to weaken their numbers[MESSAGE]. Incidently, the bogus group located in the Washington Hall on 14th Ave., Seattle, were engaged in Bingo games. A few discreet enquiries encouraged the local authorities to investigate this activity resulting in their equipment being confiscated. At present an audit is being conducted to ascertain their ability to meet current obligations. The picture is very bleak. Our greatest strength is the support we give our Grand Lodge and it's program."[18]

The Grand Lodge then turned its attention to polishing its own image by stepping up Community involvement and placing the Grand Lodge in the face of our City, as reflected in the 1976 Proceedings:
pg. 24, 1976 Comm. on Non Prince Hall masons Report
pg. 25, 1976 Comm. on Non Prince Hall masons Report

This was actually a return to the legacy of Prince Hall Masonry in Washington State, and the long standing contributions we have made to the City of Seattle, and African American community life here in the State. Members like John C. Logan, J. E. Hawkins, J. E. Shepperson, Gideon S. Bailey, Conrad Rideout just to name a few. We, along with the African American church, were vital components to a vibrant and illustrious community.

The Commission disappeared in 1977, there is no mention of a Commission and no report brought to the floor; PSGC Russell Gideon had taken the helm of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (AASR), there seemed to have been a void created. I did not find any mention of the Commission in either the 1978 or 79 Proceedings. I wonder what happened? I guess I have to go to the Elders and earn my wages.

This concludes the 70s, Pt. 4 will pick in 1980. Again any that have questions or would like to go into depth concerning what is in the articles posted here, please contact Honorable John L. Hairston at: johnhairston357@gmail.com

  1. Proceeding of the 67th Annual Communication of the M. W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington and Jurisdiction, 1970, Committee Appointments, pg. 4 
  2. Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era, Professor Quintard Taylor, 1994, pg. 221-222, Chapter 7: From "Freedom Now" to "Black Power" 1960-1970
  3. Proceeding of the 67th Annual Communication of the M. W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington and Jurisdiction, 1970, Grand Master's Address, pg. 8-9
  4. Ibid. July 15th 1970, pg. 84
  5. Ibid. Clandestine Committee Report, pg. 69
  6. Ibid.                       "
  7. Proceedings of the M.W. Grand Lodge of Washington, 113th Annual Grand Communication, 1970, Grand Master's Official Acts, pg. 38
  8. Ibid. Clandestine Masonry Report, pg. 131-132
  9. Proceeding of the 67th Annual Communication of the M. W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington and Jurisdiction, 1970, Clandestine Committee Report, pg. 69
  10. Proceeding of the 68th Annual Communication of the M. W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington and Jurisdiction, 1971, Roster of 1970-1971 Committee Appointments, pg. 1
  11. Ibid. Recommendations, pg. 7
  12. Ibid. Report on Non Prince Hall Masons, MW PGM Russell S. Gideon, pg.49
  13. This is an excerpt from a presentation written by Honorable Joseph A. Walkes, Jr, entitled, Black on Black Crime, the full paper can be read on the Phylaxis Society website: http://www.thephylaxis.org/bogus/crime.php
  14. "Thomson and his associates—Thomas Perrot, Dominic Bergera and Robert Jamieson—were convicted at Salt Lake City Utah on May 5, 1922 on ten counts of using the mails to defraud. Each was sentenced to serve a term of two years in Fort Leavenworth Prison and pay a fine of $5,000, and costs, on each count—sentence to run concurrently." excerpt taken from the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/thomson_m/thomson_m.html
  15. Proceedings of the 69th Annual Communication of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington, 1972, Report of Non Prince Hall Masons, pg. 31-32
  16. Ibid. pg. 32
  17. Proceedings of the 71st Annual Communication of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington, 1974, Report of the Commission on Non Prince Hall Masons, pg. 21-22
  18. Proceedings of the 72nd Annual Communication of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for the State of Washington, 1975, Report of the Commission on Non Prince Hall Masons, pg. 24-25

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