US black fraternal society rediscovered--in Barbados





The history of the Mosaic Templars was believed to have drawn to a close in the 1930s, when the Great Depression swallowed one of the largest benevolent societies for blacks in the nation and likely the world.

Its finances ruined, the organization created by two freed slaves in the wake of the Civil War left little behind other than its iconic brick building in Little Rock's black business district. But even that relic is now gone, left in disrepair until transients trying to stay warm burned it down in March 2005.

However, 2,500 miles away in the tropics of the West Indies, a lodge still bears the Templar's name — one of the chapters that had once popped up in 26 states and six countries — and has kept the society's fire going while all others faded out.

"One seed was planted and from that seed, much fruit has been reaped," said Angelina Thornhill, a member of that surviving Mosaic Templars' lodge on the island of Barbados.


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