Why an African American Free Masons group “returned” to one of slave trade’s darkest places

By Joy Notoma

When a group of Prince Hall Masons from North Carolina arrived in Cotonou, Benin last month for the inauguration of a new grand lodge in Cotonou, the cultural significance wasn’t lost on the masons from Benin.

After The American Revolutionary War (1775-83), a formerly enslaved man from Massachusetts who had fought in the war for independence, was attracted to Freemason ideals like brotherly love, justice, and liberty, but the exclusively white group wouldn’t allow a black man in its ranks. The man, Prince Hall, wasn’t one to take no for an answer, though.

With all the traditional tenets of masonry, he decided to start his own group of masons.

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