Sunday, February 10, 2002

Black temple installs leaders

New potentate, grand master take office

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SHARONVILLE — Prince Hall Masonry's Sinai Temple Number 59 celebrated black history and its own history Saturday with the installment of a new potentate and a state grand master, elected from its ranks in Cincinnati.

        The Temple recognized Sidney Broadnax, 65, a former potentate who was recently elected State Grand Master, to head the 5,000-member black masonic order for the next two years.

        Retired Cincinnati Police Sgt. Malentine W. Benson, 54, was sworn in as the new potentate of the temple during ceremonies at the Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road.

        Mr. Broadnax is a retired customer service manager for the U.S. Postal Service.

        “My main objective will be to let the public know about the community service work our lodge does,” he said.

        “We want the public to know about our tutoring program, the scholarships we give, the charitable work during Christmas and Thanksgiving, and our housing programs.”

        Mr Broadnax's election as grand master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio brings the most prestigious office of the State Masonic order back to its birthplace, Cincinnati.

        Black lodges in America began about 1775, when abolitionist Prince Hall was initiated into English Masonry. Mr. Hall later secured a charter from the Grand Lodge of London to organize his own group in America.

        In 1787, the African Lodge No. 459 was organized in Boston.

        Sinai Temple Number 59 is an affiliate of Prince Hall lodges. Prince Hall Masons have 64 lodges in Ohio, including 11 in Greater Cincinnati with approximately 1,200 members.

        The State Grand Lodge was formed in 1848 with three lodges from Cincinnati providing the foundation.

        “It takes three lodges to form a state grand lodge, and it is very rare that they all be from one city, as was done in Cincinnati,” Mr. Broadnax said.

        After the state grand lodge was established, Cincinnati continued to be a pioneer in Prince Hall Masonry. Since 1848, a total of 15 grand masters have come from Cincinnati.

        The first two grand masters were Thomas J. Springer, who served 1849-1851 and Griffin T. Watson, who served 1851-1852.


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