Andre Harrell


California Freemason: You’ve been lodge master four times. How did you first get involved in leadership?

Andre Harrell: When Wesley Pitts, who was my editor at a publishing company I worked at, became master, he wanted me to serve in his line. He threw me in as junior deacon, so the whole dinner prior to our stated meeting, I’m studying and trying to memorize this stuff. Just those couple little sentences stressed me out.

CFM: How did you get over that stage fright?

A.H.: We had a past master, Norm Schultz, who lived near me in Lancaster, and I’d sit with him and pick his brain about how to speak with confidence. He told me, “You have such a great personality, and when I hear you talk to the guys, you’ve got the whole room electric. Stop trying to memorize. Just read it until you understand it, and then say it like you normally would.”

CFM: Did learning those skills help you outside the lodge?

A.H.: What it did was give me confidence in myself—helped me see a different side of me I didn’t know I was capable of. If someone comes to me at my job and says, “We need you to speak about our marketing department,” I can do that. Before, I’d just have a knot in my stomach.

CFM: Why is it important to you to give back to the fraternity?

A.H.: Masonry has given me so much. So everything I do for it, I’m just paying it back. I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I just do what I can, whatever they need me to do.

CFM: Finally, I understand you’re the lodge’s resident penmanship expert.

A.H.: I’ve always been an artist, mainly pen and ink, that kind of thing. And I’m also a calligrapher, basically self-taught. So when we sign the registry, my handwriting is like Thomas Jefferson’s. I used to love his handwriting. I practiced it over and over. Him and John Hancock, those are my two favorites.

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