Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Response to Fahim El Part 2

Bro. Fahim A. Knight-El had the opportunity to respond to my post. Again, his words will remain in Black and my response in red. Bro. Fahim A. Knight-El's full response can be read here:

Bro. Fahim A. Knight El's response

Bro Fahim began:Peace: Brother Hairston, I did read your rebuttal on your Quill and Sword Blog site. I appreciate you giving me a complete response, but your dissecting of my words left a lot to be desired. Let me first bring this much to your attention relative to the role race has played in American Freemasonry. I agree with this much of your commentary Freemasonry was founded on the universal principles of brotherhood regardless of race, color, creed and/or ones religious affiliations. But may be you unintentionally overlooked the fact that Prince Hall, the founder of Black Freemasonry who established Lodge # 459 and African Lodge # 1 was established because white Masons denied him and other Masons of African descent the right to petition and join white American style Scottish Rite Lodges within the United States of America. 

My dear Brother, I am well aware of the role race played in Freemasonry, in fact, I will giving a lecture at a Masonic College here in Washington State on May 22, entitled, Racial Division within Freemasonry in America: Addressing Masonic Segregation. So please understand that I well aware of the role race has played and is playing within Freemasonry. But, what does that have to do with how Freemasonry is SUPPOSE TO BE PRACTICED?
It doesn't make a difference how one distorts or misrepresents Freemasonry, the principles of Freemasonry are still the principles of Freemasonry.
Now, while America may have used race as a point of distinction, and all the claims that they made concerning African American Masons, how much of the claims of clandestinism was actually TRUE?
None.

In fact many of the white Masonic scholars and writers came to the defense of Masonry practiced by those lodges that were predominantly black and denied access to the Brotherhood of Freemasonry. But the whole while, the Charter in possession of those members of African Lodge #459 was legitimate and from a Grand Body of Competent Jurisdiction.

The difference in the proposal of amnesty with the JGJ groups is that their charter is NOT legitimate and they have no legal line to any regular masonic authority. So, the claims made by regular masons that excludes them from the fold, is based on accurate and verifiable evidence.

Allow me to correct a couple things though in the above portion of your response. What Scottish Rite Lodges were African American Masons excluded from?

Secondly, what Scottish Rite Lodges did African American Masons petition?

I think you may have some information wrong or mixed up. A good research of how the Scottish Rite was established among African American may be in order.
I also recommend a review of Prince Hall Affiliated history, as it will reveal that there were 11 black men in Philadelphia Pennsylvania who received their degrees in England and Ireland when they petitioned Prince Hall and African Lodge #459 in 1797 for a warrant.
You should also find that Provincial Grand Master Joseph Warren of St. Andrew's Grand Lodge was in the process of issuing a Charter to African Lodge before he died. There is much more to the story, but I believe that your pro-black ideals causes a selective and bias approach to history. You continued:
This forced the abolitionist and freedom fighter Hall to establish an all Black Masonic Order that functioned sovereign and independent of their white Masonic counterparts (this represented black pride and stood as a symbol of Black Nationalism).

Again, we have a deficiency in providing an accurate presentation of the history. From 1775 to 1808 Prince Hall led African Lodge #459 as Worshipful Master, and was always under the Jurisdiction of Ireland and England. It wasn't until 1826, that GM John T. Hilton made the first OFFICIAL ADDRESS OF SOVEREIGNTY and INDEPENDENCE for all domestic and foreign masonic authority. So, your black nationalist theory misses the mark due to a revisionist attempt at an account of the facts. So, hopefully you can do just a bit more research on the REAL history of Prince Hall and African Lodge #459. Let me also add, that up until 1827, African Lodge continually sought recognition from Regular Lodges and Jurisdictions. There is way too much documentation to state otherwise. You continued:It actually could be looked at as one of the earliest Black separatist movement in America prior to Paul Cuffee, Martin Delaney, Marcus Garvey, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, etc.

This statement fails by virtue of being based on a flawed premise. African Lodge #459 sought admission by recognition for many years. There was no separatist movement, the members of African Lodge #459 understood Freemasonry, which led to their continued attempts to be admitted into Fraternal relations with white Jurisdictions. Even after the establishment of the African Grand Lodge, there was always the notion that Freemasonry was universal. This is what I mean when I say that black nationalist ideals can't mix with freemasonry because it clouds the picture and taints the interpretation of the history. You continued:White racism and white supremacy had little to no respect for the universal tenets and principles in which Freemasonry was supposed to rest upon—morality, friendship and brotherly love.

I can agree with you to a certain extent. No, then, white lodges did insert racism as a means of dealing with African American masons. What do you say now that the majority f Masonic Jurisdictions actually recognize each other?
This doesn't mean it should stop there, because there is another step that should be taken...But because a populace of people chose not to practice the principles doesn't negate the fact that those principles are still the core essence of Freemasonry, and surely doesn't negate the fact that clandestine lodge are just that, clandestine-whether they are white or black lodges. You continued:
There were a number of legal court battles where white Masons sued and took Prince Hall Masons to court for daring to have the audacity to wear Masonic regalia and publically display the Masonic Square and Compass in venues.

See, as writers we are held to a high standard in the presentation of Truth. Now, I have to hold your feet to the fire. Can you name 4 Masonic court cases that you speak of where White lodges sued black lodges? You stated that there are a number of case, I would like for you to list 4 cases of such. Thank you in advance. You continued:
Moreover, Prince Hall's white Masonic brethren said Black Masons had no right to legally display any Masonic symbols because Prince Hall Masons were considered clandestine and irregular Masons and this so-called status compromised their right to exist under the banner of a Freemasonry organization and entity (just take a moment and read the history of the Shriners Jubilee Day) .

True, they did indeed state that, but the question is, WAS IT TRUE?
Now, the same question is posed to JGJ and other clandestine groups, could they actually defend themselves by documentation against such accusations?
No, because they have no legitimate paperwork or charter lineage. Big difference bro. Fahim. You continued:
So it was White Nationalism that drove this divisiveness (Jim Crow was initiated with the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson where the high court ruled that it was legal to practice segregation and discrimination and it was not until 1954 with Brown vs. Board of Education decision overturned the Plessy decision and declared separate but equal as being unconstitutional). 

All of this is true, ut what does it have to do with JGJ groups being clandestine and the fact that they cannot get around it. If all racism was eliminated from the face of the earth, clandestine groups would still have the problem of being clandestine. But it can be fixed, and all it takes is for them to abandon their clandestine practices and petition a regular lodge, simple. You continued:The white Masons ignored the social consciousness of our jurisprudence system as it was litigated in the U.S. Supreme Court and continued for decades to practice institutionalized racism against so-called African American Masons.
This is an exaggeration. White masons may have been slow to recognition, but the debate on the legitimacy of PHA jurisdictions had long been settled and accepted as early as 1900, with the writing of MW William H. Upton's book, Light on a Dark Subject: Critical Examination. Not all White Masons accepted the views of racist white masons, hence the changes and progress that has been achieved in America on the masonic front. There is still work to do, but for the most part the barriers are being broken down. I mean,  the United Supreme Councils recognized their counterpart in the Southern jurisdiction, amid 9 States under their jurisdiction not recognizing Prince Hall Grand Lodges. I believe that you're exaggerating a bit and embellishing. You continued:
But you are accusing me of injecting race into the Freemasonic equation and you are conveniently overlooking the fact that for over 200 years Black Masons and White Masons could not have interchangeable lodge visitations because white Grand Lodges in the United States did not officially recognize Prince Hall Masonry. Now, this is not to say, that there have not been over the years some integrated Masonic Lodges in the United States of America where black and white Masons co-existed; these instances prior to 20 years ago were more of the exception rather than the rule.

So, in other words you admit that changes have been made and what was 20 years ago, isn't today. Today, the racism in Freemasonry is in the minority in the masonic climate of the 21st Century. You just have to accept that fact. But this in no way relieves clandestine groups of the responsibility to correct their status, because their reason for being clandestine has NOTHING to do with racism AT ALL, now does it? You continued:For example, in my Masonic Jurisdiction of North Carolina, it was just 6 years ago that after 138 years of racist segregation that North Carolina white Masons finally passed a decree recognizing Prince Hall Masonry as a regular body of Masons. So, my brother race has always played a very high and prominent role in American Freemasonry. I believe that there are still 9 states that still will not allow a black Mason to enter their Blue Lodges, Shrine Temples, consistory, etc. My position on Black Masonic unity has plenty of merit. 
How many white lodges do you visit?
See, your concepts of black masonic unity has no merit when you expect Regular masonic lodges and masons to accept the illegal nature and practices of these group for the sake of "unity". It doesn't coincide with Freemasonry. Please my brother, do more research on the subject and then let's talk.
I AM,
WB John L. Hairston, Editor
The Quill and The Sword

4 comments:

  1. Peace: Brother Hairston all of your arguments and contentions in some form or fashion I have dealt with similar arguments within the last ten years. Most of you all echo the same exact argument, which ultimately is the official line of Prince Hall Masonry. I have always been an outside the box thinker, writer and research. However, I reject your subtle attack on my character relative to my ability to put forth factual information and documentation; trust me I am not new at this. Allen Roberts perhaps is one of best modern day Freemasonry scholars and Masonic intellectual who authored the book titled, “The Craft and its Symbols: Opening the Door of Masonic Symbolism” stated, “In actuality, you have also told your brethren that they can count on you to stretch forth your hand to keep them from falling. You have offered them your strength, your ability, your knowledge when they need it. There are no reservations. It matters not whether the aid they need is mental, physical, or monetary. Your promise contains no ‘buts’. When a brother is in danger of any kind, it is your duty to advise him of his impending peril. In doing so, you must remember that it is not your ‘plumb line’ that judge him, but by his. And it is his Square and his Level, not yours, by which you are to determine his actions. His opinions may differ from yours politically and religiously, but they are his tools, not yours. WHEN HE GOES ASTRAY FROM THE PRINICPLES, THEN AND THEN ONLY, SHOULD YOU QUITELY REMIND THAT HE IS IN ERROR. THEN SHOULD ASSIST HIM TO FIND THE RIGHT TRACK FOR HIM TO FOLLOW.”

    White Freemasonry has not only gone astray, it is in violation of the principled language that defines brotherhood. Webster’s Dictionary defines brother as being “One closely united with another or others by religious, political, or family bond”. What happen to the belief in the Cardinal Virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice? Perhaps in the dynamics of race these words have very little meaning to the white Masonic body when it comes to their dark skinned Masonic Brothers. This argument is not about Prince Hall Masons being classified by Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as “irregular” or “clandestine”, it is convenient to hide behind such accusations, but what truly drives this fraternal division more than anything else is racism. Masons are taught how to communicate with a fellow Mason in darkness and light based on the language of symbolism—a word (the being able to verbalize the passwords), sign (give the due guard), token (being able to give the grip) let me stop right there; IS THERE NO HELP FOR THE POOR WIDOW'S SON?

    But this social phenomenal and antagonistic contradiction between black Masons and white Masons is steeped in a perhaps much larger historical debate of race in America and the culture that evolved out of Chattel Slavery (1555-1865) impacting the political, economic and social reality of race relations and affected how institutions were originated, as well as the formulation of group dynamics ideology. Dr. Asa Hilliard who authored book titled, “Reawakening of the African Mind” stated, “mental bondage is invisible violence. Formal physical slavery has ended in the United States. Mental slavery continues to this present day. This slavery affects the minds of all people and, in one way, it is worst than physical slavery alone. That is, the person who is in mental bondage will self-contained. Not only will that person fail to challenge beliefs and patterns of thought which control him, he will defend and protect those beliefs and patterns of thought virtually with his last dying effort.” NOTE THIS COMMENT WILL HAVE A CONTINUATION.

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  2. Continuation to my response to Bro. Hairston: Sherrod N. Gresham in his book titled, “Prominent Prince Hall Masons on the Philatelic Materials: Stamps, First Day Covers, and Post Cards” stated, “On March 2, 1784, African Lodge #1 petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, the Premier or Mother Grand Lodge of the world, for a warrant (ort character), to organize a regular Masonic lodge, with all the rights and privileges thereunto prescribed. The Grand Lodge of England issued a character on September 29, 1784, to African Lodge # 459, the first lodge of blacks in America.” Black Masonry, for the most part, has accepted the racist practices of white masons in a passive manner. But black Freemasonry as an institution, will be called upon to be more vocal outwardly in the black community and move away from a tradition of apolitical and a non-engagement stance while the social issues are mounting in the black community and in reality there is no room for silence.

    Prince Hall, a free black man of Boston, Massachusetts was initiated and raised as a master mason by a traveling British Military lodge in 1775 along with fifteen other free black men. In addition, Prince Hall received an official and legitimate Masonic Charter from the Grand lodge of England on September 29, 1784, which led to the establishing of African lodge Number 459. The United States Supreme Court on June 23, 1929 handed down a decision, which guaranteed that Prince Hall Masons and Shriners had all the rights as a fraternity to appear in public, and in private to practice the time honored traditions of Masonry.

    The “News Quarterly”, which is the official publication of the United Supreme Council 33 Degree Prince Hall Affiliated, its Editor-in-Chief Joseph Walkes stated, “prior to 1914 and even up to 1918, both white and black fraternities had established local lodges and local Shrine Temples in several cities and states. In some instances they were established in the same cities, namely Dallas, El-Paso, and Houston. In 1914, White Masons in five Southern States; Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, attempted to stop the practice of masonry by Prince Hall Masons and Prince Hall Shriners, as legitimate fraternal bodies in the United States. The White group appeared in a Texas court and entered a lawsuit against blacks, charging that they had no legitimate right to display Masonic or Shrine emblems in private or public, or call themselves Prince Hall Masons, Shriners, or anything else”

    The above historical facts should serve as evidence which to dismantle the question of whether or not Prince Hall Freemasonry should be designated and viewed by white Masons as “irregular”; thus, there is enough historical documentation that suggest that these African-American Masons did received a legitimate and authentic charter from the Grand Lodge of England. Now! I am quite sure this argument has been presented over and over again, to the white Grand Lodges of the United States, but to little or no avail. Racism is a mindset that considers black people as a group as being inferior to whites because of physical (‘genotypical’ and ‘phenotypical’) traits. The racist further believes that these physical traits are detriments of social behavior and moral or intellectual qualities, and ultimately presumes that this inferiority is a legitimate basis for inferior social treatment of black people in society.

    Stay Awake Until We Meet Again,
    Fahim A. Knight-El

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  3. i have a difficult time contenacing alll other writing when the premise is invalid no such thing as american style scottish right loges. faulty logic from the start

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  4. Pfunk, I will not dignify this comment.

    Stay Awake Until We Meet Again,
    Fahim A. Knight-El

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