Photo credits: Masonic Find
The Honorable Prince Hall is believed to have been born in Bridgetown, Barbados sometime in 1738.
He lived in America and was part of the “free blacks,” which basically means that he was not a slave and was born a free man. Hall always had great aspirations for black people in society and shared some of Freemasonry’s ideals even before he became a Mason. He believed in equality and freedom, which were values many African-Americans needed and what Freemasonry offered.
Hall sought to obtain citizenship for black people and dreamed of black and white men being equal in front of the law.
Prince Hall was not only opposed to racial discrimination but he was also against class discrimination. He always fought hard for his ideals. In 1796, for example, he built schools for black teenagers to give them the opportunity to educate themselves and take a step higher in society. Sharing many Freemasonic values, Hall sought admittance to the Craft in Boston St. John’s Lodge together with fourteen other African-American men.
However, they were not allowed to become part of Freemasonry. At that time, African-Americans were not wholly allowed to enter the Craft. But Prince Hall and his fourteen men did not give up there. They were finally admitted to the Grand Lodge of Ireland where they were initiated in 1775. While this was already a step forward, the struggle for African- American Freemasons did not end there.
Until 1784, they had very limited privileges and were not allowed to do everything the other Freemasons did. While they were allowed to meet as an African-American Lodge, they were not accepted very much outside of their own lodge. On March 2, 1784, Prince Hall finally put an end to this by petitioning for a warrant to the Grand Lodge of England.
Hall succeeded at his goal. Then he founded the first African-American Lodge and allowed people of color to become part of the Fraternity. Until today, the warrant granted to Hall is the most precious document owned by the Prince Hall Masonic Fraternity as it marks the birth of African-American Masonry in the world.
All this is owed to Prince Hall, and his successes as a Freemason do not end there. In 1791, Hall was appointed Provincial Grand Master, and at the same time, he was the first Grand Master for the Prince Hall Fraternity.
He held this prominent office until his death in 1807.