Telling Our Own Story: Wilbert M. Curtis
Prince Hall Library Museum Unveiled
Story By: Grand Editor Burrell Parmer (1)
Most Worshipful Prince Hall
Grand Lodge of Texas
Texas – By the authority
vested in the office of the Grand Master and in accordance with the
constitution of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted
Masons of Texas, the Honorable Wilbert M. Curtis hereby called all Prince Hall
Masons of Texas into the Grand Lodge’s 136th Annual Grand Communication held
at the Grand Masonic Temple, June 24 - 25.
On June 25, the Wilbert M. Curtis Texas Prince
Hall Library Museum was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and
name unveiling at the Grand Masonic Temple.
The Library Museum
adds another repository for the collection of Prince Hall Masonic History in
the city. It will possess collections and preservation of Prince Hall Masonic
History and activities in Tarrant County and throughout the state in the form
of photos, paintings, books, articles, original lodge charters, cornerstones,
ledgers, uniforms, a Lodge Room, etc. Many of the items date back to the late
officials from Tarrant County and the Texas House of Representatives,
officials from the Tarrant County Black Historical & Genealogical Society and
the Fort Worth Public Library were in attendance. Special guests included
Grand Masters of Prince Hall Grand Lodges: G.M. John Miller of Arizona, G.M.
Arvin Glass of Tennessee, G.M. Cleveland Wilson of Arkansas, G.M. Anthony
Stafford of Florida, and G.M. Deary Vaughn of Oklahoma, who also serves as the
Sovereign Grand Commander, United Supreme Council, Ancient & Accepted Scottish
Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Southern Jurisdiction.
Every Texas Prince
Hall Masonic Organization was represented to include Grand Worthy Matron
Martha Wolridge and Grand Worthy Patron Robert B. Calloway Jr. of the Norris
Wright Cuney Grand Chapter; Grand Most Ancient Matron Jackie Levingston and
Grand Joshua Isaac Cary Sr. of the Grand High Court, Heroines of Jericho;
Grand Princess Caption R. Lucille Samuel of the Lone Star Grand Guild,
Heroines of the Templars Crusade; State Grand Loyal Lady Ruler Shirley Gideon
of the Texas Council of Assemblies, Order of the Golden Circle; Most Excellent
Grand High Priest Willie Tate of the Most Excellent Prince Hall Grand Chapter,
Holy Royal Arch Masonry; and Right Eminent Grand Commander Ronald Gerac of the
Lone Star Grand Commandery of Knights Templar Masons of Texas.
After the opening prayer by Deputy Grand Chaplain
Rev. F.D. Sampson Jr. and the occasion delivered by Grand Junior Warden Frank
Jackson. Grand Marshal Ronald Gerac made the Proclamation and the
Consecration was then performed by Deputy G.M. Michael Anderson, Grand Senior
Warden Bryce Hardin I, and G.J.W. Jackson overseen by the Hon. Edwin B. Cash,
the only living Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge.
With the Consecration of corn, wine, and oil
complete, G.M. Curtis with tears in his eyes cut the ceremonial ribbon and
“We will now be able to tell our own story,” said
G.M. Curtis. “I hope that the city of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and the
state of Texas will embraced this Library Museum and utilize it as a research
“The Library Museum has been on the Trestle Board
of the Grand Lodge for many years. Now it has come to fruition,” said G.M.
Curtis. “Getting to this point of the grand opening has been a rewarding
experience not only for me but also for the team members that assisted me.”
After G.M. Curtis comments, he opened the door to
the Library Museum and guests began to pour in to view its treasures.
The original design of the Library Museum was
conceived by Nicole Hawthorne, daughter of Past Master Benny Tucker, the
Chairman of the Archives Committee.
Hawthorne, a graduate of Baylor University with a
Bachelors of Art in Interior Design, had been performing interior design since
2007. She was asked in June 2010 by her father to produce some drawings.
According to Hawthorne, she wanted to create
something that reflected what the space would be used for.
“I wanted the look and feel of the area to
resemble a turn-of-the-century, new world library. The antiquated, over-sized
portraits displayed there were inspiration for the rest of the design and
everything else branched from them,” said Hawthorne. “The design of the
Library Museum was intended to be like a time capsule with a rich historic
G.J.W. Jackson, who also serves as the Grand Lodge
Historian, provided background on the Library Museum’s conception.
“The Library Museum is a labor of love, it came
from a vision by G.M. Curtis and we are thankful for him and his leadership.
One thing that alarmed us was that we were losing a lot of our history and
archives at a very disturbing rate,” said G.J.W. Jackson. “If we were to look
forward from today, maybe 50 to 100 years, it will be highly likely that
people will know our story and I truly believe that you cannot really tell the
story of Texas without telling the story of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall
Grand Lodge of Texas.”
“We are proud of our legacy, we are proud of our
heritage. If we don’t tell our story, no one is going to tell it for us,”
said G.J.W. Jackson. “We have numerous materials. We haven’t even been able
to go through all the archives, and materials are still being donated.
Currently the Library Museum only shows you just a
glimpse of our treasures. So when people come here, we want them to see the
vision that our Grand Master has shared with us and for researchers to see the
culture and history that Prince Hall Masons have contributed to the great
state of Texas.”
All photos taken by
Ribbon Cutting: Grand
Master Wilbert M. Curtis cuts the ceremonial ribbon of the Wilbert M. Curtis
Texas Prince Hall Library Museum at The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand
Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons of Texas’ Grand Masonic Temple, June 25.
Grand Masters: Lt to Rt:
G.M. Wilbert M. Curtis shakes hands with Territorial G.M. Dr. Osiefield
Anderson of Florida, who was the guest speaker for the Masonic Banquet in the
Lodge Room of the Wilbert M. Curtis Texas Prince Hall Library Museum, June
25. Standing behind them are Grand Master John Miller of Arizona, G.M.
Anthony Stafford of Florida, G.M. Cleveland Wilson of Arkansas, G.M. Dr. Deary
Vaughn of Oklahoma, G.M. Alvin Glass of Tennessee, and Grand Secretary Albert
Kelly, Sr. of Louisiana.
Library: Lt to Rt: Bro.
Willie High Colman, Jr., chairman of the Prince Hall Charitable Foundation of
Texas, Chairman of Archives Bro. Benny Tucker, Grand Editor Burrell Parmer,
and Grand Junior Warden Frank Jackson sitting in front of portraits of Past
Grand Master and officers of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge,
F.&A.M. of Texas in the Wilbert M. Curtis Texas Prince Hall Library Museum
June 24. The portraits are on loan from the Tarrant County Black Historical &
Library: Lt to Rt: Grand
Junior Warden Frank Jackson, Chairman of Archives Bro. Benny Tucker, and Bro.
Willie High Colman, Jr., chairman of the Prince Hall Charitable Foundation of
Texas reads through pages of a ledger belonging to the Fraternal Bank and
Trust in the Wilbert M. Curtis Texas Prince Hall Library Museum, June 24.
Grand Communication: Worshipful
Masters and Brother from throughout the state attended the 136th Annual Grand
Communication of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F.&A.M. of
Texas, June 24.
The mission of
the Wilbert M. Curtis Texas Prince Hall Library Museum is as follows:
collect, organize, describe, make available, and preserve primary and
secondary resource materials emphasizing the historical documentation of the
M.W.P.H.G.L. of Texas and its impact on the cultural milieu on the broader
local communities, the state of Texas, the Jurisdictions under its authority
and the larger expanse of human kind.
provide adequate facilities for the retention and preservation of such
serve as a resource and research center to stimulate and promote creative
teaching and learning through the use of primary research materials; and
provide instruction in the use of those materials.
promote research and scholarship by providing access and encouraging the use
of its collections by members of the Masonic Family and the public at large.
implement records management by formulating policy and procedures that will
ensure the collection and preservation of the Library Museum’s materials.
The Library Museum is available to the public by
appointment Monday thru Thursday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Information about the
Library Museum can be obtained by contacting the Grand Lodge Office at
817-534-4612 or by visiting www.wmctphlm.com.