Lodge’s loyalty to Johnson, a lord of the ring
THE MYTH is being perpetuated that boxer Jack Johnson went only to Canada and France outside the U.S. (Mail). In fact, he came to England to fight exhibition matches in Newcastle in 1911. How can I be sure of this? An Army officer from Dundee was also boxing there in October 1911 and introduced Johnson to my masonic lodge. He travelled up from Newcastle and, on October 13, 1911, became a freemason in Forfar and Kincardine, No. 225 Lodge, in Dundee. This cost the master at the time a twoyear suspension from the Craft. Two other past masters received one-year suspensions and our lodge had its charter lifted for 18 months. This was because its members refused to deny Jack Johnson and bow to pressure from the American Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Scotland to send him back the three guineas he had paid to become a member. My records show they never did this. My past brethren fought tooth and nail, and at considerable cost, and refused to abandon Brother Johnson, who’d committed no crime in British law. Johnson was a very intelligent and hardworking man who not only invented an adjustable wrench but had his own nightclubs. His tragedy was to have been 100 years before his time. He was a wealthy World Champion boxer who liked white women. His only fault, in 1911, was to be black. As a past master of his lodge, I’m proud that my brethren refused to abandon him and took their punishment. As far as Forfar and Kincardine Lodge is concerned, the Great Jack Johnson is, and will for ever remain, a freemason. I’m proud of my past brethren and proud that Jack Johnson was a member of my lodge.
GORDON WEBSTER, Dundee.
Proud: Gordon Webster with his lodge book. Inset, Jack Johnson