Prince Hall Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About California Prince Hall Masonry


How many members are active in Prince Hall Masonry today?

As with other Masonic organizations, it’s practically impossible to say for sure. But estimates put the number of Prince Hall Masons in the United States at around 100,000, and perhaps up to half a million worldwide. Similarly to all Masonic groups, that number has ebbed and flowed over time, peaking in the postwar years of the mid-20th century. In those U.S. states with the largest Prince Hall presence, you’ll often find up to 20,000 members. In California, there are around 3,000 members.

How many Prince Hall lodges are there in California?

There are currently 58 Prince Hall lodges in California, ranging from Marysville in the north to San Diego in the south. Unsurprisingly, lodges are clustered in the Bay Area (three in San Francisco, six in Oakland, plus others in Berkeley, Vallejo, El Cerrito, and the South Bay) and Los Angeles (14 lodges in L.A., plus another 15 in the greater Southland). Across the country, there are nearly 1,000 Prince Hall lodges, with Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Washington, D.C. having the most.

Is Prince Hall Masonry active in other countries?

Yes, there are Prince Hall lodges all across the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. The United Grand Lodge of England recognizes 36 Prince Hall jurisdictions in the United States (including California), as well as the Prince Hall grand lodges of the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and the province of Ontario.

What philanthropic issues are the Prince Hall Masons of California known for?

Together with the California Masonic Foundation, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California awards the C.E. Towne Scholarship Fund to high school graduates to help them afford college, as well as the Prince Hall Memorial Education Scholarship for low-income students and deserving children of Prince Hall Masons. This spring, as part of their support for students, Prince Hall Masons donated 250 pairs of boots to students pursuing career technical training education in Sacramento.

What is the connection between Prince Hall Masonry and the civil rights movement in the U.S.?

Many of the most important figures of the civil rights movement were closely associated with Prince Hall Masonry, including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the late Rep. John Lewis. Lewis was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and, in 1965, the famous march from Selma to Montgomery that helped lead to the pas- sage of the Voting Rights Act. Prince Hall Masons from around the country gather each year on March 7 to commemorate the “Bloody Sunday” crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Through Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Prince Hall Masons also helped support the landmark 1954 school desegregation Supreme Court case.

How similar or different is the Hall Masonic ritual?

Prince Hall Masons, like the Grand Lodge of California, confer the first three degrees of Masonry. In terms of ritual, it is extremely similar to other California lodges, although the performance often includes song. Since ritual is governed at the state grand lodge level, it can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to the next.

Are there any other differences between Prince Hall Masonry and the Grand Lodge of California?

The most notable difference concerns dual or plural membership. Prince Hall Masons in California can belong to only one blue lodge (although they can be made honorary members of another). As a result, a Mason cannot belong to both a Prince Hall lodge and a Grand Lodge of California lodge. Beyond that, grand lodge officers serve in three-year terms, rather than single years.

Prince Hall Masonry is a historically Black fraternity. Do you have to be Black to join?

No. Although Prince Hall Masonry was founded by and largely for African Americans, it has always been open to men of all ethnicities and nationalities.

What are the requirements for membership?

All Freemasons are held to the same standard and must be of good character and reputation to become and remain a member. Additionally, to join Prince Hall Masonry in California, you must first meet the following criteria:

  • Be a male at least 18 years old
  • Be a California resident for at least six months
  • Be prepared to profess a belief in a deity
  • Be of good reputation as a man of honor and integrity
  • Be recommended by two members of the lodge you wish to join

Does Prince Hall Masonry include appendant and concordant bodies?

Yes. In California, Prince Hall Masonry includes several other Masonic organizations, including the Prince Hall Order of the Eastern Star, the Scottish Rite’s Robert W. Brown Council of Deliberation (organized under the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, Prince Hall Affiliation), and the Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch (York Rite), including the relevant bodies within those groups. 

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