Mayor Adams had a busy schedule Saturday, including remarks at a Harlem book fair and presenting a proclamation at a Dominican Community Center gala. One item wasn't on his official schedule: a ceremony where the mayor, along with the NYPD commissioner and top uniformed officer, became Freemasons.
Adams, NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban and NYPD Chief of the Department Jeffrey Maddrey were “raised” as Master Masons, the “final and highest honor in Freemasonry” by the Prince Hall Masonic Temple on Sept. 23, according to a Facebook post on the group’s website. Tony Herbert, citywide liaison to the mayor’s office, confirmed that the event took place and that he was there, but did not comment on the mayor’s attendance.
The Freemasons are the oldest male-only organization in the world and have long been fodder for conspiracy theories. The ceremony was not posted to the mayor’s public schedule, despite the fact that it was hosted at Gracie Mansion. A spokesperson for City Hall did not immediately respond to an inquiry. A spokesperson for the NYPD also did not immediately respond.
Photos of the ceremony posted on Facebook show the mayor and his top police brass wearing white aprons representing “innocence and upright conduct,” according to a Freemasonry educational page. The trio stood beside Grandmaster Gregory Robeson Smith Jr., who oversees the Harlem-based Prince Hall Masonic Temple, a meeting place for the Prince Hall Freemasonry, also known as African American Freemasonry. A call to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge was not immediately returned.
Several other officials joined the ceremony on Saturday, including Herbert, NYPD Deputy Chief of Manhattan Borough North Ruel Stephenson, Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow and State Sen. Kevin Parker, according to the Facebook post. Stephenson, Pretlow, Parker and Herbert received their 32nd Degree Freemasonry, making them “Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Masonry Northern Jurisdiction PHA,” according to the post.
Prince Hall Freemasonry was founded in 1775 by abolitionist Prince Hall and 14 other free Black men who were denied memberships to the all-white Boston St. John’s Freemasonry lodge.
“While we are not a religious institution we all share a belief in a Supreme Being,” the website says.
“Everyone is welcome but not everyone is accepted.”
Nat King Cole, W.E.B. DuBois, Duke Ellington, Medgar Evers, Thurgood Marshall, Al Sharpton and Booker T. Washington are just a few of the famous Prince Hall masons listed on the group’s website.
Agnostics and atheists cannot join the Freemasonry, according to Masonic historians , and the Catholic Church condemns the organization. Of the 39 men who signed the U.S. constitution, 13 were Masons. The last U.S. president to become a Freemason was Gerald Ford. Former Mayor Fiorello Laguardia was also a Freemason
Membership has dropped about 75% in recent years, from a high of 4.1 million people in 1959 when 4.5% of all American men were members , NPR reported.
Conspiracy theories have followed the Freemasons for as long as they have existed. The Eye of Providence — found on the dollar bill — represents “the watchful care of the Supreme Architect” for Freemasons, according to the group’s national museum . George Washington, whose picture is on the other side, was a Freemason.