Toronto Society for Masonic Research


The Prince Hall "Problem" in a Nut Shell

Two Hundred Years of Racism in North American Freemasonry is the Problem!

The American Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction was the Tool!

Full Recognition of all Regular Black Masons is the Necessary First Step!

Stop the Denials. Stop the Discriminations Now. Envisage a Better Future!


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Two Hundred Years of Racism in North American Freemasonry is the Problem!


For 200 Years, American Freemasonry was restricted to White men only (http://tsmr.org/racdis.html). 1,000,000 Regular Black Prince Hall Masons were never recognized by the White U.S. (Or Canadian) Grand Lodges. The majority of the 160,000 Regular Black Prince Hall Masons who are alive today are still not recognized by any of the 51 "Mainstream" U.S. Grand Lodges. 


The American Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction was the Tool!


Having first excluded black persons as members and visitors, the white Grand Lodges then declared the establishment of a second (i.e. black) Grand Lodge in a State to be an invasion of the jurisdiction of the white Grand Lodge in that State, under "The American Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction", thus excluding the black ("Prince Hall") Grand Lodges from recognition.  The American Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction was used as the major instrument of enforcement of Racism for 200 years. And still, all "mainstream" US Grand Lodges cling to it, and thus exclude the majority of Prince Hall Masons from recognition.     The American Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction clearly discriminates against predominantly black Prince Hall Freemasonry.  For example, this Doctrine empowers the Grand Lodge of Alabama to prevent any U.S. Grand Lodge from recognizing the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alabama.  When applied against Prince Hall recognition, this doctrine asserts the monopoly of white Masons.


Full Recognition of all Regular Black Masons is the Necessary First Step!


While recognition is not sufficient, it is a necessary first step before the colour line can begin to be eliminated.  Since all Prince Hall Affiliated Grand lodges have been shown to be Regular, continued non-recognition of any of them is unethical.   Failure to recognize Regular Masons, and to do so in a manner that transparently manifests systemic racism, not only continues to rob the unrecognized Prince Hall Masons of dignity and respect, but it does great harm to the entire Masonic order, and to the self-esteem of every single Mason.  Treating Prince Hall Masons as equals is a necessary precondition to respectful dialogue.


Stop the Denials. Stop the Discriminations Now. Envisage a Better Future!


E.T. Malone and Henry Robertson demonstrated that "It's not racism, it's jurisdiction" was a pretext, when they deceived the white Grand Lodge in Ontario in 1899.  (Details here: http://www.tsmr.org/malone.html)  There is ample proof of the racist exclusion in US Freemasonry.  The exclusionary teachings are still being distributed through official channels, as "educational" lectures, to be used in the lodges, even in Canada!  We cannot "manage the problem", pretending that no wrong was ever done.  We must acknowledge the wrong, and then stop the wrong immediately, not a tiny bit at a time, congratulating ourselves on our magnanimity with each tiny step.


Once we acknowledge that non-recognition was wrong, there is no justification whatsoever to continue prolonging this wrong.  Non-recognition was systemic, comprehensive, and automatic.  Therefore the correction must be unconditional, comprehensive, unilateral, and expeditious.  The rhetoric of "both sides are to blame", or "some Prince Hall Grand Lodges don't want recognition", "they have to ask for it" amounts to defamation and victim blaming.  After 200 years of proven white discrimination, what is needed is to stop it now, not to invent new and better excuses to prolong it.


Recognition of Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodges is not the end.  It is only the beginning.  But the defamation must stop immediately.  And the work towards a future, consistent with the genuine principles of Freemasonry must begin in earnest.