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The Craftsmen of the Civil Rights Movement

            African Americans have been fighting for their rights for decades. The African American civil rights movement changed everything. This social movement looked to outlaw discrimination towards black Americans and obtain their right to vote. The movement did not turn to violence to get what they wanted, instead they demanded political and economic self-sufficiency. The movement was filled with major campaigns of civil resistance. Between 1955 and 1968 acts of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience produced crisis situations between government authorities and activists. All levels of government local through federal often had to respond to these crises immediately and were forced to face the inequalities faced by the black Americans. The forms of protests included boycotts, sit-ins, marches and other nonviolent activities. Through persistence, African Americans were able to pass the Civil rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, along with many more legal achievements1. With the eventual success of the civil rights movement, it is important to trace back to its origins and the people and organizations that played a vital role in making the African American people's dreams become a reality. Arguably, one of the most important components in providing black Americans with the ability to band together and earn their god given rights, were the strong influences of the African American fraternal organization of the Freemasons. These brotherhoods, especially the Black Elks, and their Masonic lodges gave African American's a space where they were all equal, and were in turn, able to formulate action and plans to embark on the journey to gain equality, civil and political rights. .
             Before getting into the African American Freemason's specifically, it is important to understand the origins and beliefs of Freemasonry. To begin, freemasonry is believed by masons to have been around since the time of Solomon, but the first official Masonic lodge was built in England in 17172.

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