This story originally aired on September 2, 2017.
There is an unassuming, boxy building on the corner of Martin Luther King Junior Way and South 17th Street in Tacoma. This is the home Prince Hall Masonic Temple of the Freemasons. The organization is a worldwide fraternity that’s been around for hundreds of years. It’s known for its secret symbols and rituals.
Prince Hall is a traditionally African American branch of freemasonry named after a man from the 1700’s who had to personally ask the King of England for permission to join the Freemasons.
Today, the person who oversees Prince Hall Grand Lodges in Washington State is Julius W. Brown. Julius’s formal title is very fancy: The Most Worshipful Grand Master.
Julius wanted to join the order when he was 21 years old. He asked his father, who was a member, for permission. His dad said, ‘no.’
“My father said I wasn’t ready,” says Julius. “He knew I was not married. I had two children by my now wife. He didn’t agree with my lifestyle.”
Julius made significant changes in his life and eventually was allowed to become a Freemason. Julius talks with Sound Effect Host, Gabriel Spitzer, about how being a Freemason has grounded him and made him a better man.