Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Martin Luther King: Freemason Or Not?
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, I thought I'd repost this popular piece.
Martin Luther King Jr. in universally recognized as one of the principal leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States and a prominent advocate of nonviolent protest. King's challenges to segregation and racial discrimination helped convince many to support the cause of civil rights in the United States.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he was ordained as a Baptist minister at age 18. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 and from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951. In 1955 he earned a doctoral degree in systematic theology from Boston University. While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, whom he married in 1953. He's also been identified many times over as being a Freemason.
The question is, was Martin Luther King, Jr. a Freemason? It's a little more complicated than you might think.
In 1999, Most Worshipful Brother, Benjamin P. Barksdale, Grand Master of Prince Hall Freemasonry in Georgia, posthumously made Dr. Martin Luther King a Mason at sight.
The action was controversial. It is one of the few instances (if not the only one) when a man was declared by a Master Master after his death. Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, accepted the honor on behalf of her late husband.
It does seem to have been Dr. King's intention to become a Mason. Prince Hall documents indicate that Grand Master X. L. Neal had arranged for Dr. King to become a Freemason upon his return from Atlanta in 1968. Unfortunately, his assassination in Memphis on April 4th, 1968 prevented that from happening.
Without question, Dr. Martin Luther King would have made a fine Mason. He was builder, and his legacy forever changed the world.
Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014.