They have been around since the 1700s. They meet in lodges. And they refer to each other in Old English. A lot of people don’t quite understand who they are or what they do. But those who have benefited from their charitable work have experienced the Prince Hall Masons’ brotherly love.
The Prince Hall Masons is a worldwide freemason fraternity with a local Minneapolis chapter. The fraternity’s history stretches back 200 years. Prince Hall, known as the “Father of Black Masonry in the United States,” along with 14 other free black men, was initiated into a lodge at Boston Harbor on March 6, 1775.
The next year, the same group initiated the first African lodge just one day before the Declaration of Independence was signed. For the past 230 years, the Prince Hall Fraternity has grown to encompass more than 4,500 lodges globally, accounting for more than 300,000 Masons.
While Minneapolis’s Prince Hall Masons typically meet at a lodge just twice a month, the real practice of freemasonry comes with what they do during all the other days in between.
The Prince Halls report their purpose is “in being founded on service to their families, communities and nation.” Many of them are leaders in the community, but they aren’t out to gain political control, only to support their local and national governments. Politics is never discussed at Mason meetings. The short version of their mission is to provide relief, truth and brotherly love. And the local Prince Halls have lived up to that mission in two recent philanthropic contributions.
The fraternity recently donated eight laptop computers to an evening GED program, hosted by the Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis, enabling GED students to study with computers, and opening up a whole new avenue of learning possibilities. The organization also hosts identification programs at the Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis to ensure children’s safety. A scholarship fund is also provided through the Prince Hall Foundation.
Matthew Taylor, a local Prince Hall Mason for the past 11 years, has experienced the great reward that comes with giving. “It gives a sense of accomplishment and a satisfaction of helping others who are in need,” he said. “Personally, I believe that in order to become blessed, one must bless others; blessings are a perpetual entity that continues to flow in accordance to the energy put into it.”
While technically the word “freemason” is defined as a person who belongs to a secret society, Taylor reports that there’s nothing secret at all about the Prince Hall Masons. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he notes. “Our lodge buildings and our distinctive square-and-compasses emblem is prominently displayed in many places and vehicles. We are proud of our fraternity and want everyone to know that we are members of it.”
Taylor adds that the fraternity works behind the scenes to help and assist others in need. “Widows and orphans are often the subject of our work, but in today’s society, we look to meeting the needs of any and all.”