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Author Topic: The Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World  (Read 28 times)

Janet Planet

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The Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World

In 1907, the Seattle Republican reported on the Order of Elks, writing that "it is claimed by members and officers that it is one of the most thriving secret societies among Afro-Americans of this city." According to the non-profit African American Registry, the fraternal order was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1899 after two black men were denied admission to the Benelovent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, which is still popular today and, despite questions raised on discriminative practices, now allows any American citizen, 21 years or older, who believes in God to be invited to join its ranks.

The two men decided to take the order’s name and make their own club around it. Formally called the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, the order was once considered to be at the center of the black community. During the era of segregation, the lodge was one of the few places where black men and women could socialize, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote. In recent years, however, the Post-Gazette commented that the secret organization has struggled to retain its relevance.  Still, the secret society continues to sponsor educational scholarship programs, youth summer computer literacy camps, parades as well as community service activities throughout the world.

 

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