The Origins of Black Service Organizations

Black contributions in the volunteer and civic space have been around since the Revolutionary War. Out of those spaces came formal organizations aimed at redefining American democracy.

One of the leading figures in creating a Black fraternal organization was Prince Hall. He, along with 14 other Black men, brought Freemasonry to the United States after being inducted into a regimental lodge of the British Army in 1775. With this knowledge, the fraternal organization laid the foundation to share secrets, pass down important knowledge, and disrupt politics and race relations as America knew it. Since then, Black fraternities and sororities have become critical in advancing rights for Black American’s at every point in history.

In this episode of Black History in Two Minutes or So hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — with additional commentary from Hasan Jeffries of Ohio State University — we look at the origins of Black services and how their continued commitment for equality for Black people is still seen to this day.

Black History in Two Minutes (or so) is a 9x nominated and 5x Webby Award winning series.

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Archival Materials Courtesy of:
• Alamy Images
• Associated Press
• Getty Images
• Library of Congress
• The New York Public Library

Additional Archival Material Courtesy of:
• African American Museum & Library at Oakland

Executive Producers:
• Robert F. Smith
• Henry Louis Gates Jr.
• Dyllan McGee
• Deon Taylor

Senior Producer:
• William Ventura

Series Producers:
• Chinisha Scott
• William Ventura

Executive in Charge of Production:
• Robert L. Yacyshyn

Post Production Supervisor:
• Veronica Leib

Post Production Coordinator:
• Katherine Swiatek

Written By:
• Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Additional Writing:
• Kevin Burke
• Kelsi Lindus
• Chinisha Scott
• William Ventura

• Margaret Metzger
• Anne Yao

• Kevin Burke

Archival Producer:
• Megan Graham

• Zoë Smith

Assistant Editors:
• Patrice Bowman
• Nicholas Mastrangelo

Director of Photography:
• Nikki Bramley
• Nausheen Dadabhoy
• Stephen McCarthy

Graphic Design:
• Anthony Kraus

Special Thanks:
• Daina Ramey Berry
• Sam Hartley
• Elyssa Hess
• Stacey Holman
• Hasan Jeffries
• Peniel Joseph
• Imani Perry

Music By:
• Oovra Music

Be Woke presents is brought to you by Robert F. Smith and Deon Taylor.

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