...the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. Geo. Washington Feb. 22, 1732


Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert Kennedy, South Africa 1966.


Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK, Jr. Day

I found this video on Americablog. It will take you about 17 minutes to watch. I had only heard (or listened to) snippets of it before. I am glad I watched the whole thing. Here in Ames we are still struggling with the issue of racism. I guess in some ways we are all over this country.



As I listened I thought about what he said about brotherhood and especially about the Masonic Fraternity. In Ames we have always had black visitors to our Lodge. People come to Iowa State university from all over and many of them come from Lodges which we recognize that were more progressive than we are. I am proud to have been one of the two signers of the first petition from a black man to join our Lodge. As with many of our Lodge members this man has moved to another country now. But we don't keep a man out because of the color of his skin. My lodge also sponsored the legislation from Grand Lodge that recognized the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Iowa.

That is not enough. Dr. King's dream has still not been realized. I see it all the time. Many black people still do not feel good about themselves. You have to catch their eye and recognize them and say hello. They will tell you about it if you ask. I understand that. As a person who has been made to feel less than a person at times I sort of understand how they feel. But I can never really understand. I can only work as one person to help change things.

I am not proud of my Masonic brothers in the South (state of Georgia) who told a man who belongs to a lodge there that he cannot visit an Iowa Lodge because we recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. He was even afraid to come to his own son's degrees. No I am not proud of them at all and I would go so far as to say that we should drop recognition of them.

Hell, I am not proud that we had to recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodges at all. My personal feeling is that Prince Hall Grand Lodges should never have had to exist but I understand that they did exist - it is a fact.

Addendum: Go over to The Burning Taper to read about the first black man installed as Master of tradionally white N.C. Lodge.

I know of bigots in our fraternity - right here and now. I avoid being around them. I don't like or understand them at all. My feeling is that ALL men are my brothers and until you show me otherwise I will treat you as such. I know that there are some lodges that won't let a black man into their lodge. I don't blame the lodge. It is the system of one black ball being able to keep a man from joining that is at fault (come to think of it why are they called black balls? Is that a racial thing being that black in a negative?) One person can hide his bigotry behind the secrecy of the ballot.

I have always looked at the symbolism of everyone having to vote positively as a good thing as it shows that we are all willing to have the man welcomed into the brotherhood of the fraternity. However it isn't always used like that. I recently got out of an organization which kept a person out because one individual in that organization doesn't like someone who was proposed. Granted that is not the only reason I got out but I would not belong to a group which I saw as being formed just so one man could exercise his "pettiness" by casting a black ball against one of the finest Masons I have ever known. I think it is just evil.

I don't get out of the entire fraternity (although I know that the man who sponsored me into Trojan Lodge left for that reason) because I can be an agent of change in some small way by staying in. Besides I am not ready to give up the very fine Masons I know and love (even though some of them gave up on me) because of a few bigots.

I hope you listened to Dr. King's entire speech. He said a lot. And they killed him for saying it.

Addendum:
I just found this statement on another blog. I think it is worth reading also.
Perhaps the greatest impression that Dr. King had on me was his unswerving dedication to non-violence in his pursuit of civil rights. He withstood taunts, provocations, and rank invasions of his privacy and his life at the hands of racists, hate-mongers, and the federal government, yet he never raised a hand in anger against anyone. He deplored the idea of an eye for an eye, and he knew that responding in kind would only set back the cause. I was also impressed that his spirituality and faith were his armor and his shield, not his weapon, and he never tried to force his religion on anyone else. The supreme irony was that he died at the hands of violence, much like his role model, Mahatma Gandhi.

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