Head of Prince Hall Freemasons says there’s nothing secret or cultish about philanthropic organization
By Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
When it comes to long-held myths and rumors about Freemasonry—cult-like blood sacrifices, mystic symbolism, and the power to control what goes on in world affairs or (God forbid) overthrow governments—the biggest secret is…there are no secrets!
“Those who know what we do know we are not a cult,” said Melvin J. Bazemore, Sovereign Grand Commander of the United Supreme Council-Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry-Prince Hall Affiliation, Northern Jurisdiction U.S.A., Inc.—or, as they’re more commonly known, 32nd and 33rd Degree Prince Hall Masons.
“We’re the most open secret organization there is as to what we do in communities and churches,” Bazemore stressed during a recent interview.
Bazemore, a retired executive with General Motors, has headed the organization since July 2018. He serves a three-year term. Bazemore was in Milwaukee to preside over the Masons Midwinter Deputies Meeting at the Best Western Plus Hotel across from Mitchell International Airport. It’s at this mid-year meeting the Masons plan their annual national conference, which is held each May.
The Masons are exploring the possibility of coming to Milwaukee for the national annual conference in 2020. The city hosted the conference in 2002.
Bazemore said the organization has to take some of the blame for the misinformation and myths surrounding Freemasonry. “We haven’t been as public (as other organizations). If someone wants to know (about 32nd and 33rd Degree Freemansonry) they should join us and find out.”
If a male in his 30s (33 years of age to be exact) were to become a 32nd and 33rd degree Freemason, he would learn the organization is “…in the business of making good men better. That is what we do,” Bazemore said.
Once considered a “pagan” organization accused of being an anti-Catholic cult by the Roman Catholic Church, Freemasonry adheres to God-inspired values and a strong moral code of conduct (though it’s not a religious organization) and is known for its philanthropic activities.
The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry-Prince Hall Masons is comprised of 26 “orients” (“states”). Of those 26 orients, 22 are actual American states. The remaining four “orients” or “states” are comprised of Canada, the Bahamas, the Far East, and Europe.
Wisconsin is one of the orients. William R. Stark is the Deputy—or leader of— the orient of Wisconsin. Within the Wisconsin orient, there are four affiliates or “Lodges” as they are called. They are: Widow’s Son Lodge No. 1 (Milwaukee),
continued page 2 of Milwaukee Community Journal Vol XLII Number 30 Feb. 13, 2019