Which West Jackson facility is the home of a fraternal organization and once housed the offices of the Mississippi Free Press and Medgar Evers? While all of the options are located in West Jackson, the correct answer is (A.) The M.W. Stringer Grand Lodge.
The Masonic Temple played a very active role during the civil rights movement. For instance, what is now known as the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium was once a city-owned venue called College Park Auditorium. College Park was built as a civic center for African Americans. When the city received word that Thurgood Marshall would be scheduled to speak there, it banned Marshall’s appearance at the venue, leaving organizers scrambling for an alternative site.
The members of the M.W. Stringer Grand Lodge stepped in and expedited their plans for a privately-owned auditorium to be located half-a-mile away. The new facility was finished by May 1955, and the inaugural speaker was non other than the Honorable Thurgood Marshall.
The Masonic Temple has hosted some significant people and events in history. Lena Horne, Dick Gregory, and Jackie Robinson have made appearances at the venue; and have you heard the saying “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired?” That famous phrase was said by Fannie Lou Hamer as she spoke as a representative of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in Atlantic City (1964). The party she represented, however, was created through its first MFDP convention at the Masonic Temple in 1964. Approximately 2,000 people filled the Temple’s auditorium to take part in the founding of this organization.
That’s it for this week’s trivia! We’ll see you at the same time, same place next week!
Pillar of fire: America in the King years, 1963-65 by Taylor Branch
Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement by Townsend Davis