Photo of a Masonic funeral procession from the late 1940s/early 1950s.
Masonic Funeral Procession
Officers of Axiom Lodge #216, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliation (PHA), lead a funeral procession. Undated photo Axiom Lodge dates to 1951, so photo is likely 1950s. Perhaps someone with more automobile knowledge can pinpoint the truck on the left side. Axiom Lodge is incorporated in Faubourg Treme. So, it’s possible this procession walks through that neighborhood.
The officer front and center is likely a Warden of the Lodge. He carries the Volume of Sacred Law (VSL). This is likely a bible. Behind the Warden walks the Worshipful Master. He wears a hat, indicating his office. The Master walks under an arch of two pikes, carried by Tylers. A Tyler of a Masonic lodge serves as the guardian of the lodge room. He stands outside as the lodge gathers, challenging those who desire entrance. In this procession two Masons function as guardians of the Master.
Prince Hall Affiliation
Prince Hall was a man, a free Black Bostonian. He was born ~1735. Hall became an abolitionist and an influencer in the Black community of Boston. He encouraged Black men to reject British rule and support the revolution. Hall believed that white men would recognize the contributions of Blacks in the formation of the new nation.
Hall recognized that the two most important institutions in Colonial society were the military and freemasonry. Ironically, Hall was initiated into a lodge attached to the British Army. Lodge 441, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, initiated Hall and fourteen other Black men into freemasonry.
Hall in turn founded African Lodge 1. So, the membership named him Grand Master. After Hall’s death in 1807, African-affiliated lodges sought to join the Grand Lodges of their respective states. The white lodges rejected them. So, the African lodges formed an Independent Grand Lodge. “Prince Hall Affiliated” lodges grew in number. Additionally, more white grand lodges recognized the African Grand Lodge.
While most growth of Prince Hall freemasonry occurred in Union states, the movement eventually moved into rebel states. PHA lodges grew in Jim Crow states, since the structure was already segregated.