Uma das areas da maçonaria americana menos faladas são as Grandes Lojas Prince Hall que coexistem com as Grandes Lojas Estaduais sendo estas ultimas consideradas a "Mainstream". Eu próprio sei pouco desta maçonaria que congrega quase só exclusivamente homens de cor negra ou como os americanos chamam no politicamente (in)correcto - African American.
Estas Grandes Lojas, absolutamente regulares e reconhecidas pela United Grand Lodge of England têm uma história própria curiosa.
Sabendo pouco do assunto mas estando absolutamente convencido do interesse do mesmo, pedi ao nosso amigo Frederick Milliken, a quem agradeço, que me mandasse informação sobre a Maçonaria Prince Hall e ele mandou-me bastante mais que o que esperava.
Assim, publico aqui hoje a História do próprio Prince Hall de quem as Grandes Lojas retiraram o nome, as minhas desculpas mas o texto está em inglês.
Compiled from various sources
Prince Hall, our founder, was one of our greatest Americans; a Worthy Grand Master associated with our first black Masonic Grand Lodge and its expansion. His name is carried and borne by Masonic Organizations throughout the United States and thousands of Masons who regard themselves as descendants from the Grand Lodge of England from which he received his authority more than two centuries ago. America, celebrated in 1976 the two hundredth anniversary of our Declaration of Independence. This year Prince Hall Masons will celebrate the two hundred and twenty fourth (224th) anniversary of the founding of Prince Hall Masonry in the United States. Prince Hall Masons of Texas will celebrate their 124th year of Prince Hall Masonry in the State of Texas. This article is a monument to Prince Hall’s life, career and leadership. It shall further serve as information about Prince Hall Masonry.
A significant event happened in Masonry on March 6, 1775. John Batt, working under the authority and the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, initiated Prince Hall and fourteen (14) other free black men into Masonry in Army Lodge No. 44. The other candidates were Cyrus Johnson, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Titley. When the British Regiments left Boston on March 17, 1776, a dispensation was issued by Batt authorizing Prince Hall and his brethren to meet as a lodge under restrictions. Under this permit, African Lodge No. 1 was formed July 3, 1776. Official acknowledgment of the legitimacy of African Lodge No. 1 was almost immediately made by John Rowe of Boston, a Caucasian and provincial Grand Master of North America holding authority from the premier Grand Lodge of Freemasons, the Grand Lodge of England. He, too, issued a permit authorizing African Lodge No. 1 to appear publicly in procession as a Masonic Body for the purpose of Celebrating the Feasts of Saints John and to bury its dead.
For nine years these brethren, with other free black men who had received their degrees in Europe, assembled together and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons, distressed that Prince Hall’s attempts to formally associate African Lodge with Caucasian Grand Lodges were frustrated by bigotry and racism. It was an ironic period in American history when colonists embraced the doctrine of independence, liberty, and equality to justify the revolt against English rule while promoting and condoning the economic and social exploitation of blacks debased by slavery.
Moddy sent a letter to Hall on March 10, 1787, stating the Charter was delivered to James Scott, Captain of the ship, Neptune, and brother-in-law of John Hancock. Hancock was a signer and President of the Continental Congress. The Charter, signed by Deputy Grand Master Roland Holt and witnessed by Grand Secretary William White, reconstituted African Lodge No. 1 as African Lodge No. 459 and thus began the parallel lines of black and Caucasian Freemasonry which continues to exist in America.
Some white Masons say that Blacks were not denied admission to white lodges and they point to the very few and the presence of others by invitation as proofs. D. Bentley, a contemporary who wrote in his diary, available to all, "The truth is they are ashamed of being equal with blacks. Even the fraternities of France, given to merit without distinction of color do not influence Massachusetts’s masons to give an embrace less emphactical or tender affectionate to their Black Brethren.. It is evident that a preeminence is claimed by whites." The same situation exists in Texas today but not in all States. Many Texas Caucasian masons refuse to recognize Prince Hall Masons however they do consider permitting a limited number of black men, thought to be prestigious and financially solvent, to join their local lodges. Texas Prince Hall Masons are proud of their legacy and history that our ancestors such as , Norris Wright Cuney, I.H Clayborne, Thomas H. Routt and many others worked so hard for. We are not actively seeking anyone to recognize us.
African Lodges were constituted in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New York. On June 24, 1791, the African Grand Lodge of North America was organized in Boston with Prince Hall as Grand Master. This was one year before the organization of the United Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (Caucasian). In 1827, 45 years after the (Caucasian) Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had done so, African Lodge of Boston declared itself independent of the Grand Lodge of England.
The original charter of African Lodge of Boston is in the possession of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and is the only know original 18th Century Charter in existence issued to any American Lodge by the Grand Lodge of England. It proudly represents the indisputable legitimacy and regularity of 45 Prince Hall Grand Lodges and their subordinate lodges and affiliated bodies.
The descendent Grand Lodges of African Grand Lodge changed their names to "Prince Hall Grand Lodge" with two exceptions. Today, throughout the world, there are 44 "Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodges", some 5000 subordinate Lodges and more than 300,000 Prince Hall Masons.
The Church and Prince Hall Masonry for many years were the two strongest organizations in the black communities for many years. In fact, they were the only organizations that black men and women could participate in or join. Masonic Lodge Halls were used as locations for church services and teaching blacks how to read and write. Prince Hall Masons utilized their resources to provide young black men and women scholarships to college, to provide various forms of charity in their local communities, and to assist in many other programs in the black communities. Ninety percent of the founders of black Greek Fraternities and Sororities were either Prince Hall Masons, Heroines of Jericho or Order of Eastern Stars.
De entre todos os documentos que recebi sobre o assunto, tentarei fazer resumos para aqui publicar mais sobre esta faceta da maçonaria.