Tag Archives: Freemasonry

Reflections on Charlotte and the Civil Rights Movement

Okay, I wasn’t alive in September 1963 (but would be born the following February) when events in Birmingham, Alabama, Washington, DC and Charlotte occurred.  But they have made a great impact on my life and the lives of everyone that I know.

I have spent this weekend at our first (of many I hope!) Prince Hall celebration weekend.  For those of you that are not familiar with Freemasonry let me give you a little history.  Prince Hall, who was a free “Man of Color” along with 14 other men petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a charter so that they could become a ” “regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons”. From those men, who chartered as African Lodge # 1 (later changing to African Lodge # 457).  In North Carolina, Prince Hall Masonry got started in 1865 with the establishment of King Solomon Lodge # 1 in New Bern, North Carolina under the guidance of the New York State Grand Lodge.  Paul Drayton Lodge # 7 here in Charlotte was the first Lodge established in this area and chartered September 19, 1872.  Other Lodges in the Charlotte area soon followed and according to James Harrell, who wrote the history of the old 19th and 20th Masonic District which is now split into the 32nd and 33rd Masonic Districts, grew and prospered.

Sunday, September 15 in Birmingham, Alabama.  African-Americans were still rejoicing in the spirit of the March on Washington which had occurred just three weeks before while segregationists were reiterating that they would not change and would do anything to maintain the status quo.  At the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which had been used as a rally point for civil rights protests in Birmingham (which had the unofficial nickname of “Bombingham”) it was just a typical Sunday morning, which was about to change.  At 10:22 AM, while people were getting ready for the 11:00 AM service sticks of dynamite planted by members of the KKK exploded and killed four young girls. I cannot begin to image what was going through their parent’s minds when they were frantically searching for their loved ones in the rubble and finding out that your daughter is an innocent victim of someone who is willing to kill to maintain segregation of the races.

Charlotte would not experience that type of violence until 1965, although it had its share of moments during the Civil Rights movement.  In 1957 Dorothy Counts, now Scoggins attempted to integrate Harding High School. Images from Charlotte Observer photographer Don Sturkey which made papers around the world shows a young woman attempting to maintain a calm demeanor while walking through a crowd of jeering people:

Photo taken by Don Sturkey - Charlotte Observer via Google Images

Photo taken by Don Sturkey – Charlotte Observer via Google Images

While there were scuffles during the lunch counter sit-ins at McCrory’s in Uptown Charlotte, the city managed to escape most of the violence that engulfed other Southern cities until November 1965.  In the early morning hours of November 22, the houses of Dr. Walker Hawkins, City Councilman Fred Alexander and his brother Kelly Alexander were firebombed.

Repairs to Fred Alexander's House - December 1965.  From t

Repairs to Fred Alexander’s House – December 1965. From the Kelly Alexander Papers (UNC Charlotte Special Collections) via Google Images

While no one was injured or killed that morning, the city was wakened out of its complacency about its slow and baby steps towards civil rights.  Fred Alexander, the first black elected the Charlotte City Council in 1962 and who would later help remove the fence between the white Elmwood Cemetery and the black Pinewood Cemetery was also serving with the reconstituted Mecklenburg Chapter of the NAACP and as Secretary for the North Carolina Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

While events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings or the firebombing of Fred Alexander’s house may not seem relevant today, the lessons that we could take is that while people may go to extreme measure to maintain a way of life, other people must make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Where did I get my information for today?  My pictures and information came from:

Don Sturkey’s photo of Dorothy Counts walking up the stairs at Harding High School – Charlotte (NC) Oberver photograph from via google images (downloaded September 15, 2013)

Repairs to Fred Alexander’s House – Fred AlexandeRr Papers in the UNC Charlotte Special Collections via google images (Downloaded September 15, 2013)

Brief History of the Charlotte Area Prince Hall Masonic Lodges – History of Prince Hall Free Masonry and Appendant Bodies in the Charlotte Area 32nd and 33rd Districts formerly 19th and 20th Masonic Districts and 14th and 24th Order of the Eastern Star Districts compiled by James E. Harrell 33° (Charlotte:Self-Published) 1994

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing – Siblings of the Bombing-Remembering Birmingham Church Blast 50 Years on by Jessica Ravitz (, September 15, 2013 updated at 2:05 PM EDT)

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2013 in History, People


Tags: , , ,

Lost and Moved

If you have ever traveled to Rock Hill, South Carolina and drove into their downtown via Dave Lyle Boulevard, you may have seen these two free standing columns just before you enter the downtown area:

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

Well, they used to be in Charlotte.  These two columns used to adorn the Masonic Lodge which was located at the corner of Second and South Tryon Streets.  Built in the Egyptian Revival Style, it was designed by C. C. Hook and built by the J. A. Jones Construction Company in 1921 replacing an earlier lodge building that was built in 1913.

Postcard from the Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of  the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Postcard from the Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

According to the 1921 Charlotte City Directory, every white Masonic organization in existence at that time including the Shrine, Consistory and the Order of the Eastern Star met at the Lodge building at various times during the month.  Those organizations, including Mizpah Chapter # 36  Order of the Eastern Star and the Oasis Shrine are still in existence today.

The building was demolished in 1987 when the land was purchased by then First Union Bank (now Wells Fargo) to build their corporate headquarters.  But, the columns were saved after being purchased by the City of Rock Hill to help create a gateway to their downtown area.  If you are interested in learning more about buildings in the Uptown Charlotte area, please visit the Charlotte Mecklenburg Story at  If you are in the Charlotte area, please visit the Levine Museum of the New South located at 200 East 7th Street at the corner of North College Street.


Charlotte City Directory, Page 30 Fraternal Organizations Commercial Service Company, publishers 1922. Downloaded from November 17, 2012.

Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Downloaded August 4, 2013

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Places


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Evolving Exhibits

One Grad Assistant's Pursuit to Showcase Archived Materials from the Special Collections at UNC Charlotte

New York Post

Your source for breaking news, news about New York, sports, business, entertainment, opinion, real estate, culture, fashion, and more.


Abandoned places and history from the five boroughs and beyond.

Guardian Liberty Voice

Breaking news, original content covering U.S. news, politics, entertainment, sports, world news, technology, health, science, movie and TV reviews, opinion, religion and blogs.


What’s good, bad and happening, from pop culture to high culture

Stillwater Historians

Thinking, Writing, Teaching, and WORKING in the Presence of the Past!

The Thesis Whisperer

Just like the horse whisperer - but with more pages

El's Bazaar



Personal Growth and Development

SNF All Access

Behind the scenes access into the world of Sunday Night Football


ProFootballTalk on


We're already living in the future. It's just not evenly distrbuted yet.

Much a Munch

Living. Loving. Munching - A Sydney Food Blog

coffee | served daily

1000 cups of coffee, one photo at a time


A Place to Create & Celebrate

Cinema Schminema

I'd rather be watching THIS!


Entertainment News & Celebrity Gossip