Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, brings us this post in her ongoing series about neat artifacts in the Museum Division collection.
This Masonic banner and apron are from the Stringer Lodge in Vicksburg. Organized in 1867 by Thomas W. Stringer, the lodge was the first African American Masonic lodge in Mississippi. Thomas Stringer was born in Maryland in 1815 and moved to Mississippi in 1865 to serve as a minister in the African Methodist Church. Seeing Masonry as a way to engage the newly freed men in select groups that would provide them with a greater sense of self-worth and fellowship, Stringer formed the first lodge in Vicksburg and soon other towns in Mississippi formed lodges, as well.
Source: Alferdteen Harrison, A History of the Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge: Our Heritage Is Our Challenge (1977).