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Oldest Black Fraternal Organization Makes History

One of D.C.’s oldest and largest black community service-based organizations recently rang in a new era of development and change.

As the oldest black fraternal organization in D.C., the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia celebrated a unique 2017 inauguration, with the installment of their first Grand Worthy Matron with no Masonic affiliations and with the installment of one of their youngest Worshipful Masters in recent memory.

Defying traditional law set before the 1990s that once required all women wishing to become an Eastern Star (the female counterpart of Masonry) to be a blood relative or a wife of a Master Mason, the newly elected Grand Matron expressed her sentiments on why the Jan. 7 event represented something much larger than just an inauguration.

“I am the first Grand Worthy Matron from the Window of Opportunity, which means that I had no Masonic affiliation that allowed me to come in,” Patricia L. Young said. “But with the sisters, mothers and wives and daughters of master masons that have been around for over 200 years, who still still care enough about the bond between their family, friends and community to keep this organization going is very important.

“Aside from talk of history and legacy, never forget the community,” she said. “Children are our future. That is why we work so hard turning them into great men and great women by providing them with activities like chess, golf and educational trips and embarking on Breast Cancer walks with Howard University and partnering with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.”

A highlight of the historic event was the newly elected 85th Grand Master of the same lodge, who made it a point to lay down organizational fabrics for the upcoming year.

“My vision and direction for the jurisdiction is going to be a little different from what I think this group is use to,” Phillip L. David said. “With that being said, I’m really focusing on strengthening our organization internally by concentrating on retaining and increasing membership in the lodge, growing membership among females and heavily focusing on the outside community.

“I have plans to become more involved in the District’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), seeking new partnerships and establishing better relationships with the community,” David said. “For instance, on Saturday, January 14, we will hold a prayer breakfast at our lodge and on Feb. 4, we also plan to host a community blood drive.”

Founded under the precedent of Prince Hall, a freed slave who founded the first (African) Freemason Lodge, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia contains over 4,000 men and women within the jurisdiction, striving to provide additional community service events within the community.

“When times become hard and decisions will be tough, please direct me in the right way to make the correct decisions for the betterment of this jurisdiction,” David said during a prayer at the start of his address. “In approximately 13 days we will inaugurate the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. President Trump constantly alienated many ethnic groups and women while on the campaign trail but still won the election.”

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Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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