I will begin this writing by stating that I share my opinions regardless of whom may not agree with them. In fact, no one ever has to agree, and I am always open to other points of view on any given topic.
What I can state is that my thoughts or opinions are always based on what I have experienced, seen and observed personally in my travels throughout the United States and in foreign countries I have been able to travel to.
I have been involved in Masonic related research since 1994. Since 1994 I have read a considerable amount of material that applied to Freemasonry in general, Freemasonry in America, and specifically Prince Hall Freemasonry and the attitudes by mainstream or regular Freemasonry toward Prince Hall, Black Freemasons, and Blacks in general.
A few years ago, there was an incident concerning a PGM Frank Haas of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia and his progressive views about Freemasonry and some of its antiquated regulations that many would consider outdated in this modern world we now live in.
Since that time, I have made it a priority research project to delve into the state of Freemasonry in West Virginia since the formation of Grand Lodge of West Virginia in 1863.
The grand finale of my thoughts this evening, is that the current state of things is not how things always were. One of the skills I acquired since 1994 that related to Masonic research was genealogical and historical research.
My genealogical research has helped me to identify free Black men who held membership in Grand Lodge of West Virginia from 1863 thru 1910, and some of these men held membership in Grand Lodge of Virginia prior to 1863 when West Virginia had become a separate state and had its own Grand Lodge.
What I have uncovered has been somewhat surprising. Starting in 1863, the make up of membership of Grand Lodge of West Virginia actually consisted of white men (which we would expect), but also Black men (who were free men of color). West Virginia came to life as a state over disagreement regarding the issue of slavery, and separated itself from Virginia to form a new state, and new Grand Lodge of Freemasons.
Beginning about 1910, the Black men start disappearing from the rolls of Grand Lodge of West Virginia. There were a number of things that started changing nationally, and open-minded acceptance of Blacks as members of “regular” Masonic lodges was something that began to change significantly during that time period.
I stated that some of my findings were surprising based on the views currently expressed over the last 10 years specifically, but going as far back as 1910 in my reading of the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia from 1863 through 2003.
In the past 10 years there have been views expressed by members of Grand Lodge of West Virginia that Black men have no legitimate claim to hold Masonic membership, are not recognized as Freemasons nor allowed visitation, even when holding membership in Grand Lodges that West Virginia is in amity with. Mind you, all of this is still going on in 2015 as I type these words this evening.
I have hit my word count in this writing, but will be back to elaborate more on this and the other topics previously mentioned by this writer.
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